MG Tony Cucolo, commander Task Force Marne, and CSM Jesse Andrews, Task Force Marne command sergeant major, uncase the 3rd Infantry Division colors during a transfer of authority ceremony Tuesday. The ceremony marked the fourth time Task Force Marne has uncased its colors on Iraq.
By Sgt. Johnathan Jobson
Task Force Marne journalist
Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq - During a ceremony held at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, on Nov 3, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, Task Force Marne commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, the task force command sergeant major, uncased the 3rd Infantry Division colors to signify the official transfer of authority from the 25th Infantry Division, out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
During Operations Iraqi Freedom I, III and V, 3rd Infantry Division transformed itself into Task Force Marne to command and control combat operations in its given portion of Iraq. In 2006 the division hit the ground in Baghdad as part of the Surge. Now for a fourth time the division once again becomes TF Marne, this time assigned to Multi-National Division - North.
"Today, our uncased colors symbolize a deep commitment by a group of professionals to give our absolute best effort in support of our Iraqi partners and to build on the progress already made," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo. "And most importantly our commitment to perform our duties in a manner worthy of the great sacrifices of those Americans and Iraqis who have gone before us."
During this deployment, TF Marne has scaled back its combat role, and will prove more of an advisory support and assistance to Iraqi forces.
"For an American Soldier, I would not want to be anywhere else in Iraq," Maj. Gen. Cucolo expressed. "The partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces has been outstanding, and the efforts of the civilian leadership in this part of Iraq have been superb. I just look forward to continuing that progress."
Major General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., commander of Task Force Lightning and out-going MND-N commander, had nothing but positive comments about Maj. Gen. Cucolo and Task Force Marne, and their upcoming mission.
"There is no one in the entire United States Army, I trust more to take this mission with all its complexity than Tony Cucolo," Maj. Gen Caslen stated. "I guarantee there will be no gaps in service support or mission accomplishment."
As the command element of MND-N, Task Force Marne will have a presence in numerous cities and villages, to include: Mosul and Tall Afar in the Ninewa province; Kirkuk City and Hawija in the Kirkuk province; Tikrit and Balad in the Salah ad-Din province and Baqubah in the Diyala province.
Under the division's command are four maneuver brigades: Task Force Marne now commands four maneuver brigades: 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, out of Fort Riley, Kan.; 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team both out of 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., and 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 130th Engineer Brigade, both from Hawaii. This winter, the 3rd Inf. Div.'s 2nd Brigade Combat Team will join the task force and replace 3 HBCT, 1st Cav. Div.
Since Maj. Gen. Cucolo has hit the ground he's heard how each of the brigades routinely work with their ISF counterparts to conduct air assaults, patrols and reconstruction projects. Interface between the troops and the IA has changed from just combat to discussions and practices to improve life for the Iraqi people.