Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 25, 2007 – U.S. paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division assumed responsibility for five provinces in Afghanistan last week from U.S. soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. During a Feb. 21 ceremony, the 10th Mountain's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, operating as Task Force Spartan, transferred authority for Paktika, Paktya, Logar, Ghazni and Khost provinces to the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team, operating as Task Force Fury.
The Task Force Spartan soldiers were extended four months beyond their scheduled redeployment and retain responsibility of the northeastern provinces of Regional Command - East. Along with supporting elements, they will continue to administer Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman and Nuristan Provinces from their new headquarters in Jalalabad.
During the ceremony, U.S. Army Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of Task Force Fury, praised the Spartans for the progress made in Afghanistan during their tenure.
"The Spartans set the bar for professionalism, integration of Afghan units and represented America with distinction," Schweitzer said. "We will do our best to continue along the path you have set."
U.S. Army Col. John Nicholson, commander, TF Spartan, delivered a message of allied determination and encouragement to the Afghan people.
"Together with the Afghan National Security Forces, and our two brigades, we will defeat the enemy," said Nicholson. "America is sending you its finest Soldiers to fight alongside you."
Schweitzer said his primary goal would be to build on the already dramatic progress achieved by Afghan forces and further the reach of the Afghan government.
Soldiers will integrate Afghan security agencies into their daily operations, allowing for the evolution of those security agencies.
"By doubling the combat formation we will be able to help that significantly," Schweitzer said.
Afghans attending the ceremony said farewell to Task Force Spartan leaders, welcomed incoming Task Force Fury personnel and thanked both brigades for their continued efforts in Afghanistan.
"In the past five years in Afghanistan, and in particular Khost, a lot has been accomplished because of the people and our friends, especially those of America," said Khost Province Governor Arsala Jamal.
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