Saturday, November 29, 2008

24th MEU transfers authority to 3rd Marine Regiment in Afghanistan

Story by: Cpl. Juan D. Alfonso

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Colonel Duffy W. White, 3rd Marine Regiment commander, assumed command of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Afghanistan from Col. Peter Petronzio, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit commander, during a transfer of authority ceremony here Nov. 14.

The Department of Defense authorized the creation of the approximately 2,000-man unit Sept. 15 to increase the force levels and military capability of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – International Security Assistance Force.

“My Marines and sailors are delighted at the opportunity to serve in Afghanistan and affect the progress of the Islamic Government of Afghanistan,” White said. “We are well trained and anxious to begin our mission of training and mentoring the Afghan National Police while conducting counterinsurgency operations.”

The command element of SPMAGTF-A, 3rd Marine Regiment, is based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. The ground element, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, is based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. The support element, Combat Logistics Battalion-3 is based out of MCB Hawaii. The aviation element, headquartered by Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-466, is based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

The outgoing commander felt 3rd Marines is ready for the coming months and weeks and had a few parting words to pass to the troops.

“3rd Marines is well prepared for the challenges ahead of them,” Petronzio said. “They mobilized their training to prepare to come here and are more than capable. There is nothing we did that (3rd Marines) can’t. Be safe, train hard, row well and live.”