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photos by Pfc. Andrya Hill/4th BCT, 25th ID PAO
Above: Lt. Col. Robert Campbell, commander of the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, assumed command of the Paktiya province in eastern Afghanistan in a transfer of authority ceremony Tuesday. The area was commanded by 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Infantry Division, for the previous year.
Right: Command Sgt. Maj. Peter Cramer unrolls the cavalry colors for the 1-40th during a transfer of authority ceremony Tuesday.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE GARDEZ, Afghanistan – Lt. Col. Robert Campbell, 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division commander, assumed command of the Paktya Province in eastern Afghanistan from Lt. Col. Thomas O'Steen, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Infantry Division commander, during a transfer of authority ceremony here Tuesday.
During the previous year, the 1-61st laid a firm foundation in Paktiya, establishing a solid relationship with the Afghanistan National Army, the Afghanistan National Police, the Afghanistan Border Police, as well as the governor of Paktya.
"I think our biggest accomplishments have been the partnering relationships we've had with the ANA, ANP and the ABP. We've conducted eight brigade-sized operations in Paktya alongside them, having great effects in the area," O'Steen said.
Gov. Juma Khan Hamdard agreed, thanking the 1-61st and welcoming the Denali Squadron.
"I wanted to thank (1-61st) for being very helpful, working with us and sharing ideas with us. Col. O'Steen, I appreciate so much," Hamdard said. "Col. Campbell, to you I am saying most welcome. I am fully sure that if we coordinate all operations with each other, that the people will be happy...and we will be successful in our operations."
O'Steen said he was pleased with his squadron's progress and expressed his confidence that the 1-40th will continue the mission successfully.
"I can see that 1-40th is coming here with a strong team. They are very well trained and prepared for this fight. They are receptive to ideas and have new ideas of their own," O'Steen said. "I am certain they are going to do tremendously next year."
Campbell visited the 1-61st in August and said he marvelled at the progress Paktya has seen since then through the 1-61st's work in the area.
"This is an amazing feat by these young, dedicated Soldiers. They have come a long way and laid a good foundation for us to pick up the ball and run with. I am really pleased with what we are coming into here. They have done phenomenal work, and I commend them," he said.
The 1-40th Soldiers are prepared for the many missions that lay ahead and are anxious to begin making a difference for the people of Paktya.
"We are going to try to improve governance and development, as well as security in Paktiya. It's a slow-moving fight, but we are going to work with the government and existing security forces to make this a better province," Campbell said. "There is a lot of promise out here – a lot of opportunity. It is a multifaceted mission, and we have a lot to do. I will do my very best to balance all of the districts here and their governments. They deserve our support."
The Denali Squadron is determined to assist the Afghanistan Security Forces in creating a more prosperous and secure Paktya despite the obstacles that may come their way.
"Our Soldiers have been anticipating this mission all year. They are ready, they are devoted, and they will work hard doing everything in their power to accomplish the goals of their squadron over the coming year," said 1-40th Command Sgt. Maj. Peter Cramer. "We are proud to join the Afghanistan forces, work beside them and complete the job we came here to do."