FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas — III Corps completed its deployment to the Middle East in a transfer of authority ceremony for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Sept. 13.
III Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, passed the CJTF-OIR colors to Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of XVIII Airborne Corps at the Coalition’s forward headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.
The commanding general for U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, presided over the ceremony, which was attended by Iraqi partners, distinguished guests, and Coalition Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and law enforcement officials.
“Lt. Gen. Funk’s team has made tremendous progress,” Votel said. “[From] increasing the capabilities of the ISF, collapsing pockets of ISIS fighters throughout the region, [and] helping to clear Hawijah, Anbar and the Euphrates River Valley throughout the past year.”
Votel further remarked on Funk’s leadership with the largest military coalition in history. “CJTF-OIR’s success is a testament to your leadership,” Votel said. “Working by, with, and through brave Iraqi and Syrian partners, the Coalition has remained committed to pursuing the lasting defeat of ISIS.”
III Corps is no stranger to the Middle East, holding six U.S. Army battle streamers for operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, as well as leading CJTF-OIR from Sept. 22, 2015 to Aug. 21, 2016.
During III Corps’ year-plus tour, CJTF-OIR and partner forces liberated more than two million Iraqis and Syrians, bringing the total liberated to nearly eight million. CJTF-OIR also increased land liberated from ISIS’ brutal rule from 75% to 99% of what the terrorist group held at its peak in 2014-2016.
Funk previously commanded Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command under CJTF-OIR from 2014 to 2015. The general’s remarks reflected his unique perspective on the Corps’ accomplishments. “There are two words to describe what has changed in the last four years since the formation of this Coalition: honor and hope. Working by, with, and through our Iraqi partners, we watched the Iraqi Security Forces transform into a confident, professional organization and restore honor to their nation. In northeast Syria, hope has replaced fear and oppression.”
Throughout the Corps’ deployment, the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh (ISIS) grew from 73 to 79 nations and international organizations, reflecting increased international support for the mission that has built and enhanced the capacities of partner forces, and significantly degraded ISIS’ ability to recruit, train, plan, resource, inspire and execute attacks worldwide.
Over the past four years, CJTF-OIR has trained and equipped more than 170,000 Iraqi Security Forces and thousands of internal security forces in northeastern Syria. III Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Crosby remarked, “It has been a true honor and privilege to serve with the remarkable men and women of the Coalition. Regardless of the challenge, working by, with, and through our brave Iraqi and Syrian partners, they made the mission happen. They are the very best of their nations, and chose to serve at a historic time not just for Iraq and Syria, but for the world.”
CJTF-OIR continues to work by, with and through partner forces to defeat Daesh in designated parts of Iraq and Syria, and to help set conditions for operations to increase regional stability.
“While there is still a tough fight ahead, we are confident that XVIII Corps will lead the Coalition to secure the lasting defeat of ISIS,” said Funk.
The men and women of the Phantom Corps will be welcomed home at approximately 1:30 p. m. Sept. 14 during a ceremony on Sadowski Field here.
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