New CJTF 76 Commander Promises Continued Success
By Spc. Chris Stump, USA
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Mar. 24, 2005 The Southern European Task Force plans to continue the successful mission of reconstruction and security in Afghanistan that led to the first Afghan presidential election and a rise in stability throughout the area of operations, said the new commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76.
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan commander Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, right, passes the colors to Army Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, who assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force 76 during a transfer of authority ceremony at Afghanistans Bagram Airfield on March 15. Photo by Staff Sgt. Monica R. Garreau, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
SETAF assumed duties from the 25th Infantry Division (Light) on March 15.
"It is a great privilege and honor for SETAF to be taking over this great, multifunctional, multidimensional, multinational joint task force," said Army Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya. "It is SETAF's No. 1 hope and desire to build upon the traditions of success in which ... this great combined joint task force ... worked so hard to build - a new era of peace and prosperity for this great nation."
Kamiya took over command from 25th Infantry Division's Maj. Gen Eric T. Olson, who led the combined task force for nearly a year.
Kamiya now leads the largest operational command in Afghanistan, in charge of numerous coalition task forces, ranging from infantry battalions to provincial reconstruction teams. It is a total force of more than 18,000 uniformed men and women, and civilians.
"Spectacular. That is the only word I can think of that describes the great success during this last year of the terrific troopers of Combined Joint Task Force 76," said Combined Forces Command Afghanistan commander Army Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, who was also present when Olson assumed CJTF 76 command in April 2004.
Some of those successes were the addition of 15 PRTs and more than $40 million spent on relief and aid packages to ensure Afghanistan had what it took to effectively rebuild.
The coalition members under the task force also greatly improved relations with the people of Afghanistan who, just over three years ago, were oppressed by the Taliban, said Barno. And working side by side with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, the coalition saw more than 8 million Afghans go to the polls to cast their first ballots.
"CJTF 76's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians reached out to every corner of this nation and touched the Afghan people, and offered a helping hand in their transition to democracy and freedom," said Barno. "Their impact will be felt for years to come."
The task force's accomplishments are something Olson said he was proud to be a part of. "I have never felt that contributions that I have made as a leader in the United States Army were ever more important than what I have been able to do with (the coalition) here in Afghanistan over the course of the past year," said Olson.
"It has been an absolute honor to be able to serve, to get this opportunity to serve," he said.
(Spc. Chris Stump is assigned to the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)