FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan --
Regimental Combat Team 8 handed over control of what had been their area of operation for a year to Regimental Combat Team 6, December 7.
Marines from RCT-8 and RCT-6 stood firmly in formation while the transfer of authority ceremony was conducted and the American and Afghan national anthems were played.
Colonel Andrew Smith, chief of staff, Task Force Leatherneck, was the first to speak after the march of the colors.
“It is my great pleasure to be here,” Smith said. “It is my great pleasure to bid farewell to Col. [Eric] Smith and Sgt. Maj. Jobe and RCT-8. Col. Smith and I go back all the way to the basic school, and we were roommates. So on a personal level it has been my great pleasure to watch a friend - a great friend - serve out here for a year and the accomplishments that he, the sergeant major and his great staff and those wonderful Marines and soldiers of our allied partners and what they’ve done in this very demanding mission and this very tough battle space.”
After Smith spoke, the ceremony continued with Col. Eric Smith, commanding officer, RCT-8, and Sgt. Maj. David Jobe, sergeant major, RCT-8, casing the 8th Marines colors. Once the 8th Marines colors were cased, Col. John Shafer, commanding officer, RCT-6 and Sgt. Maj. Jamie Deets, sergeant major, RCT-6, uncased the 6th Marines colors.
The ceremony concluded with the playing of “Follow me,” “Anchors away” and “The Marine Hymn.”
“It’s been a long but productive year,” Smith said, after the ceremony. “It has also been a costly one in terms of lives and resources. We owe it to those to continue to push forward with this mission. We came here with the mission of building up Afghan forces, improving the Afghan Security Forces and we’ve ruthlessly sought and destroyed the enemy. The mission here isn’t done just yet. We’ve passed it on to RCT-6 to continue the mission.”
According to Shafer, RCT-8 brought their area of operations from a highly kinetic area to an area that sees very little violence.
“The governance, economic, and Afghan National Security Force structures have developed exponentially across AO Tripoli throughout RCT-8’s tenure,” Shafer added. “Our job over the next year will be to assist the ANSF in making the final refinements necessary to be able to operate independently and unsupported in the future, in order to meet the security requirements of the local national population and GIROA.”