Oregon unit first in 116th BCT to assume authority in Iraq
Kirkuk, Iraq -- The Oregon Army National Guard's Task Force 3-116 officially assumed authority for the security and stability of the southern sector of the 116th Brigade Combat Team's (BTC) area of responsibility in Iraq in a ceremony held here December 27.
By taking the reigns from the 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light) Task Force 1-14 Infantry Commander Lt. Col. David Miller of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Task Force 3-116 Commander Lt. Col. Dan McCabe of La Grande, Oregon became the first commander since WWII to lead this unit in a combat zone, and the first in the 116th BCT to officially take over the duties of his 2-25ID counterpart.
"It feels great," said McCabe. "It's an awesome responsibility and a good opportunity to do something for a people that will have a meaningful and lasting effect for the future."
Aside from providing security, Task Force 3-116 is conducting training for the new Iraqi Army, and assisting local governmental leaders in moving their country along to a democracy.
"Our main goals for the long term are ensuring that the Iraqi Army is functional and that local government is performing civic functions," said McCabe. "All of it geared toward maintaining security in our area of operations."
The significance of the new responsibility was not lost to Task Force 3-116's senior non-commissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Brooks of Baker City, Ore.
"Generally speaking it's an extremely significant venture," he said. "One of the hardest challenges is to continue with the successes of our predecessor." Brooks was also quick to share his belief that what his unit is doing is of global importance.
"It's my feelings that historically this period of time surrounding the election in Iraq has the significance and potential to affect the entire world," he said.
The commander of the outgoing 2-25 praised the training and professionalism of the Task Force 3-116 soldiers in a speech delivered during the ceremony.
"By any standard the Viper Battalion is one of the best," said Col. Lloyd Miles, 2-25 commander. "They are trained and ready."
The 3-116 is the first Task Force of the 116th Brigade Combat Team to complete the transfer of authority process. The entire process of the 116th BCT's assumption of authority from the units of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd BCT is not expected to be completed until sometime in February, when a special brigade-level Transfer of Authority ceremony is being planned. (Story by Capt. Monte Hibbert, 116th BCT Public Affairs Office)
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