SOUTHWEST ASIA – Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, III Armored Corps Commanding General, assumed command of the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) from Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, XVIII Airborne Corps Commanding General, during a Sept. 5 ceremony here, which hosted an audience of hundreds of U.S. and Coalition Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.
Presiding over the transfer of authority ceremony was the Commanding General for U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph L. Votel.
Votel expressed confidence that the III Corps team from Fort Hood, Texas will be ready to continue the fight to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"When III Corps was here last, they were instrumental in greatly increasing the pressure on ISIS and setting conditions by training and equipping Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian opposition groups," Votel said. "Their hard work led to the recapturing of Fallujah and the airfield at Qayyarah—posturing the ISF to begin clearing Mosul, the ISIS stronghold in Iraq.”
The III Armored Corps previously led the CJTF-OIR Coalition from Sept. 2015 to Aug. 2016.
Since redeploying just over a year ago, the Soldiers from the III Armored Corps went right back to training to prepare for the mission, and Funk recognized the extraordinary effort and progress that was achieved within the region during that time.
"ISIS’ brutality forces us to look deep into the heart of darkness. They condone the systematic murder of women and children, the enslavement of religious minorities, and the torture and execution of captured prisoners,” Funk said. “As a result of the magnificent work of this strong Coalition, real change is happening. ISIS is on the run.”
During his remarks Townsend reflected on the XVIII Airborne Corps’ support to its partner forces in the achievement of major milestones in the campaign to annihilate ISIS in Iraq and Syria. During the Corps’ tour the Iraqi Security Forces defeated ISIS in their capital of Mosul in Iraq, while Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Coalition steadily made progress against and determined and evil enemy in ISIS’s global capital in Raqqah, Syria.
Townsend lauded Coalition partners’ efforts in Iraq and Syria over the past year. “Our Iraqi partners have liberated Mosul. Our Syrian partners have seized and cleared more than half of Raqqah. And the Iraqis have regained control of Tal Afar and the rest of Ninewah for good measure,” said Townsend. “I think what all of this has shown is that our ‘by, with and through’ strategy works when you have capable partners willing to fight.”
Since its establishment in June 2014, CJTF-OIR – a global Coalition consisting of more than 72 nations and organizations – has increased the capabilities of partner forces, and significantly degraded the ability of ISIS to plan, resource and execute attacks worldwide. Their collective accomplishments include:
•Trained and equipped nearly 115,000 Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and over 11,000 vetted-Syrian counter-ISIS forces.
•Recaptured over 82,000 square kilometers of territory previously held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
•Set free over 5.5 million men, women and children in Iraq and Syria.
•Conducted over 26,000 strikes against ISIS in support of partner forces in Iraq and Syria.
Funk shared his vision for the CJTF-OIR mission ahead.
“The very existence of ISIS poses a threat to the civilized world and our way of life. We must defeat them, and our collective effort WILL defeat them," Funk said.
Ceremony imagery is available on DVIDS at https://www.dvidshub.net/image/3737185/combine-joint-task-force-operation-inherent-resolve-transfer-authority