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Combined Task Force Spartan completes Afghanistan mission

March 15, 2012

By Sgt. Melissa Stewart, 3rd Brigade Combat Team Journalist

KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers in 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Combined Task Force Spartan officially completed their mission in the Zharay and Maiwand districts during a transfer of authority ceremony Wednesday at Forward Operating Base Pasab with Soldiers of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, CTF Fury.

CTF Spartan began preparations for deployment last spring, remaining focused on basic military tasks, standards and discipline. The mission began April 18 when they assumed responsibility of Forward Operating Base Pasab and the Zharay and Maiwand districts from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Since then, CTF Spartan Soldiers have maintained an operational tempo that has denied the initiative to the insurgent threat residing in the local districts. With more than 77 air-assault operations, six major combat operatives, 19 school openings and countless high-value individual and improvised explosive device cache seizures, the brigade has re-established public confidence in security for the citizens of Zharay and Maiwand districts.

"The overwhelming offensive pressure on the enemy has enabled a dynamic growth in nonlethal operations," said Col. Patrick D. Frank, commander of CTF Spartan. "Afghan normal life is returning to these war-torn districts; citizens have enjoyed this unique change and want it to continue and expand."

Soldiers in CTF Spartan worked hard with the Afghan National Security Forces and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan leaders in the area and partnered extensively with Soldiers in 3rd Brigade, 205th Afghan National Army Corps to defeat insurgents and improve the Afghan way of life.

"As the BCT arrived one year ago (in) this area, we immediately bonded with our Afghan partners," Frank said. "The Taliban had freedom of maneuver throughout much of the districts. Families had moved to Kandahar City, and violence levels were the highest of any region in Afghanistan -- the public statements were that Zharay was Mullah Omar's district.

"Afghan security forces refused to believe this," he continued, "and joined the Spartan BCT in the highly successful 'To the River' operation, pushing the Taliban out of their historic staging areas."

During this initial "To the River" phase, Soldiers sought out insurgent networks by conducting intensive offensive operations while pushing the enemy south to the Arghandab River. CTF Spartan advanced the farthest south in the region of any coalition forces unit.

Once the majority of the insurgency in the area was pushed past the river, the task force transitioned to the "To the Core" operational phase. While conducting "To the Core" operations, Spartan Soldiers focused heavily on partnering with ANSF to repair the damage done by the Taliban in villages that had recently been cleared and to continue pushing the enemy farther from the people.

During the last main phase of "To the Summit," Soldiers continued their partnership with the ANSF, while also focusing on nonlethal initiatives, such as improving schools, health care and the main road in the district and developing the Afghan civil service department.

Now, after a year of hard work, sacrifice and tremendous progress, the CTF Spartan's mission has come to an end.

At the TOA ceremony, Frank and Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, command sergeant major of CTF Spartan, cased the unit colors in front of a formation of their Soldiers. Casing the colors signifies the end of operations in the area.

Responsibility of the Zharay and Maiwand districts now belongs to Soldiers in 4th BCT, 82nd Airborne Division. During the ceremony, TF Fury leaders uncased their colors, symbolizing the beginning of their mission.

"(Soldiers) of the Fury Brigade, there is no other BCT that we would want replacing us. Your BCT has trained for this mission, has exceptional leaders and professional Soldiers, and has always successfully accomplished its assigned mission," Frank said. "As Fury Soldiers fight here in the former Taliban strongholds, the enemy will immediately recognize they cannot defeat one of the Army's most disciplined and battle-hardened (BCTs)."

CTF Spartan Soldiers are in the process of redeploying to Fort Drum. The Spartan colors will remain cased until the Soldiers have returned home and resume operations at Fort Dum.

"Task Force Spartan Soldiers return home to Fort Drum, N.Y., proud of their accomplishments," Frank said.

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