BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The 1st Infantry Division, known famously as the “Big Red One,” took charge of military operations in eastern Afghanistan April 19 in a ceremony on Bagram Airfield.
In the ceremony, the division assumed command authority of Regional Command-East from the 1st Cavalry Division. The latter is returning to Fort Hood, Texas, after a successful year-long tour here.
Operating as Combined Joint Task Force-1, the 1st Infantry Division will command and control operations throughout RC-East, an area roughly the size of Virginia including 14 provinces, 7.5 million Afghans and 450 km of a mountainous Pakistan border.
Building on the success of their predecessors, CJTF-1 will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Afghan government and Afghan National Security Forces to bring security, development and governance to the region.
Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville, Jr., commanding general of the 1st nfantry Division and CJTF-1, gave a brief address during the ceremony.
“Our mission over the next year is to maintain the momentum of this campaign, relentlessly pursuing insurgent networks, assisting Afghan efforts to assert sovereignty along the border, and accelerating the development of the ANSF,” said Mayville.
To tackle this mission, CJTF-1 wields a joint fighting force of more than 32,000 coalition troops. Their arsenal includes five U.S. brigade combat teams, as well as troops from nine NATO countries.
Perhaps the division’s most important joint-endeavor, however, is its partnership with the ANSF.
“The Afghan security forces are growing and maturing at a rapid rate,” said Mayville.
“Governance, combined with the growing security environment, has limited the Taliban’s ability to exert their negative influence."
“Still, we know this is a tough fight. But it is a fight we will win due to our strong partnership with our Afghan security forces,” he said.
In addition to its military partnership with the ANSF, Mayville’s CJTF-1 team will work closely with civilian agencies to promote the possibility of long-term success in the region.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson, the coordinating director for development and economic affairs in Kabul, attended the ceremony and gave a brief interview about the future of the civilian-military partnership in RC-East.
“The model [civilian-military] integration here is unlike any we’ve seen before,” said Olson.
“The military’s strides in security, along with its joint work with [Provincial Reconstruction Teams], has given us the ability to focus on governance and development here,” he said.
“We’ve contributed a lot Afghanistan in the last 10 years,” said Olson. “Now the challenge is to make sure the Afghan people have the capacity to continue these successes and projects after 2014.”