Photo Information

Brig. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, the commanding general for 2nd Marine Division (Forward), speaks to the service members attending the transfer of authority ceremony, March 15. The ceremony signified the transfer of command of Task Force Leatherneck from 1st MarDiv (Fwd) to 2nd MarDiv (Fwd).

Photo by Sgt. Joshua Greenfield

Task Force Leatherneck Changes Hands in Ceremony

15 Mar 2011 | Lance Cpl. Phillip Clark

1st Marine Division (Forward) transferred authority of Task Force Leatherneck to 2nd MarDiv (Fwd) during a ceremony, March 15.

Edgewater, Md., native Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the commanding general of 1st MarDiv (Fwd), relinquished his command to Brig. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, a South Windsor, Conn., native and the commanding general of 2nd MarDiv (Fwd). Task Force Leatherneck is the Ground Combat Element of Regional Command (Southwest), covering Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Osterman said his division has enjoyed many exceptional accomplishments in the past year, to include helping to stand up an entire Afghan Army Corps of approximately 10,000 members in less than one year and the tremendously effective performance of his staff. Another key achievement came at the hands of those dedicated Marines who often risk their lives to accomplish the mission.

“One of our greatest accomplishments was to generate unrelenting pressure on the enemy while respecting and befriending the population,” said Osterman. “The split-second decisions made by the Marines on the battlefield were very sophisticated. They understood the intent of what we were trying to do and applied exceptional judgment when acting.”

The successes of the past year, however, did not come without challenge for 1st MarDiv (Fwd).

“The first of our challenges was to establish the division (forward) construct and gain control of all the Marine ground forces simultaneously while the force was doubling in size to approximately 13,000 (service members),” said Osterman. “The other significant challenge we faced was in the accountability and subsequent maintenance of equipment. In order to ensure we could sustain a high level of effort against the enemy, we spent the year accounting for all of the equipment in the battle space and inducting it where necessary into maintenance. This not only ensured we were good shepherds of American resources, but it also ensured we could sustain the fight for the long haul.”

The members of 1st MarDiv (Fwd) are now headed home, closing yet another chapter in the division’s long and illustrious history. As Craparotta and his staff assume control of the task force, Osterman said he has no question about the continued success of ground operations.

“I am very confident in handing over responsibility to 2nd Marine Division (Forward). For the last several weeks, their staff has been my staff and I have had a chance to see the incredible professionalism that their headquarters possesses,” said Osterman. “During our turnover, they have seamlessly taken the baton with no noticeable difference to the young Marine walking point on the battlefield.

“Brigadier General Craparotta is a good friend and close colleague – we have known each other for 27 years,” Osterman continued. “He is a proven combat leader and well respected. I am completely confident that he will take the division to even higher levels of success in our area of operations.”

Craparotta said 2nd MarDiv (Fwd) is committed to providing the people of Helmand an opportunity for a safe and prosperous future, despite the challenges ahead.

“We know there will be challenges in the year ahead and look to capitalize on the progress made by 1st Marine Division (Forward) over the past year,” said Craparotta. “Continued development of the Afghan National Security Forces is an important priority to enabling them to take full responsibility for security. As we develop ANSF and continue to work on better governance and economic opportunities, it is important to remember that we will also relentlessly pursue the enemy.”