Townsend to Lead the Fight Against Islamic State Terrorists
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter speaks with Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, left, XVIII Airborne Corps commanding general, during a visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., July 27, 2016. Townsend is the incoming commander for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. (DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)
Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve – the group tasked to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Townsend took charge from Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of III Armored Corps based at Fort Hood, Texas, during a transfer of authority ceremony held Monday, according to CJTF-OIR officials.
Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, U.S. Central Command’s commanding general, presided over the ceremony that was attended by the U.S. and coalition soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
Votel expressed confidence in the team from Fort Bragg to continue pressuring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
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“We are very fortunate to be welcoming another great team in Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend and Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones,” Votel said. “The XVIII Airborne Corps has very big shoes to fill, but I know they are up to the task and raring to go!”
Over the last several months, officials said, soldiers from the XVIII Airborne Corps conducted intense training to prepare for the mission.
Townsend highlighted the incredible work already accomplished in the region.
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“Over the past year, CJTF-OIR, led by my good friend Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland and his III Armored Corps, and our coalition and regional partners, have done incredible work to degrade and dismantle ISIL’s oppressive and brutal regime,” Townsend said.
“Their combined efforts on the ground and in the air have accelerated” the counter-ISIL campaign, Townsend said, pushing ISIL back across the battlefield and achieving remarkable momentum towards ISIL’s ultimate defeat.
MacFarland reflected on the turning point in the campaign against ISIL as Iraqi security forces drove them out of Ramadi, Iraq, in December 2015.
“Now the enemy is in retreat on all fronts and the Iraqi security forces have demonstrated that they can conduct complex and decisive operations,” MacFarland said.
The XVIII Airborne Corps most recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan in December 2014, where in Afghanistan it led the NATO operational headquarters in Kabul, the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.