SOUTHWEST ASIA — Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps commanding general, assumed command of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve from U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, XVIII Airborne Corps commanding general, during a transfer of authority ceremony in Baghdad Sept. 14.
Commander for U.S. Central Command, Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. presided over the event. He spoke of the progress made by the XVIII Airborne Corps in the fight for the enduring defeat of Daesh following its territorial defeat on March 23, which completed the recovery of 110,000 square kilometers of territory across Iraq and Syria, with the liberation of nearly eight million Iraqi and Syrian people from Daesh’s brutal control.
“The ceremony is not so much about change, but about continuity and leadership. Despite the leadership changes, the campaign moves on without pause, and that is by design,” McKenzie said. “Over the years, these two headquarters have established a firm operational foundation, they’ve seized upon opportunities and they have expanded on each other’s successes, which has created an unstoppable momentum that in turn has allowed the entire coalition to raise its game.”
III Corps is no stranger to the Middle East, holding six U.S. Army battle streamers for Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. During III Corps’ previous command of CJTF-OIR, they enabled partner forces to liberate 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 percent of what the terrorist group held at its peak in 2014-2016.
White previously led the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command from July 2017 to March 2018.
“It’s amazing to come back and see the amount of progress that both the security forces and the countries of Iraq and eastern Syria have gone through,” White said. “So, it’s the professionalism of the security forces, it’s the will and it’s the love of a country that (results in) success, and it takes leaders (across the coalition) to make it happen, but more so, it’s our young men and women that are out on point right now ... and so my message today is, just don’t forget.”
During the past year, the coalition focused on enhancing the capabilities and capacities of the Iraqi Security Forces, training almost 60,000 Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Security Forces. Overall, since 2015, the Coalition has trained over 210,000 ISF and KSF personnel, and have trained more than 4,000 ISF instructors.
Since its establishment in 2014, CJTF-OIR has become a global coalition consisting of 76 nations and five international organizations. The coalition will continue to work by, with, and through partner forces to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria and achieve enduring regional stability.