The Commanding Officer (CO) of the First Mentoring Task Force (MTF‑1) Lieutenant Colonel Jason Blain has handed over command to Lieutenant Colonel Mark Jennings during a ceremony at the Multi National Base in Tarin Kowt.
MTF‑1 is comprised of elements of the Australian Army’s Brisbane-based 7th Brigade, with support elements drawn from the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.
The outgoing CO thanked his troops and said he was extremely proud of their accomplishments under his command.
“It was a great privilege to be able to lead so many fine Australians,” Lieutenant Colonel Blain said.
“To watch what the men and women of the unit did everyday, putting themselves in harm’s way and working side-by-side with their Afghan National Army (ANA) counterparts, never ceased to impress me.
“The major achievement was the expansion of our mentoring and partnering effects, especially taking over the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team of the 4th ANA Brigade Headquarters and the 5th Combat Support Service ANA Kandak.”
More recently, MTF‑1 expanded its responsibilities by taking over the mentoring of the 1st Kandak at Deh Rawood.
Lieutenant Colonel Jennings said he was privileged to be taking over command of the hard working and successful Task Force.
“I have two main goals for MTF1; transitioning to the Combined Team Uruzgan (CT‑U) from Task Force Uruzgan (TF‑U); and maintaining the focus on the mentoring and partnering aspects with the ANA and civilians,” Lieutenant Colonel Jennings said.
“We also need to prepare for our future transition and relief-in-place with the Second Mentoring Task Force (MTF2).”
Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General John Cantwell acknowledged the untiring work of Lieutenant Colonel Jason Blain and his Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), Warrant Officer Class 1 Stephan Colman, as the MTF‑1 command team handed over.
“Command of combat operations imposes relentless demands on the leader, particularly in an environment as complex and dangerous as Afghanistan,” Major General Cantwell said.
“Lieutenant Colonel Blain’s period as Commanding Officer has exemplified the best characteristics of combat command—an unrelenting mission focus, a broad and nuanced understanding of the battlespace, a marked tactical flair and above all, the pursuit of every possible means to keep his soldiers safe while they carry out their dangerous tasks.
“He and RSM Colman have lived the motto of the Royal Australian Regiment—Duty First—demanding of themselves the highest standards, accepting without question total responsibility for the safety and welfare of their soldiers, sharing the dangers with them and carrying the particular grief of the commander over losses and wounds.
“I remain deeply grateful for their contribution to our mission in Afghanistan.”
Major General Cantwell also welcomed the new command team of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Jennings and Warrant Officer Class 1 Brett Brown.
“The coming months will present a multitude of challenges and you will be tested time and again.
“I am confident you will succeed.”
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