CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), assumed command of Regional Command Southwest in a ceremony here, March 26.
During the ceremony, Toolan assumed responsibility for the Helmand and Nimroz provinces area of operations from Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, the commanding general of I MEF (Fwd).
“President Karzai, in a speech earlier this week, discussed the progress that has been made in Afghanistan, specifically in the southwest,” said Toolan. “We, the coalition forces, and the warriors of Afghanistan are taking the fight to the enemy and driving them from among us.
“Because of the extraordinary efforts of Major General Mills and RC Southwest, transition will begin this summer in Helmand with Lashkar Gah. I plan to build upon and continue the successes of Major General Mills. We will continue to support the great people of Afghanistan and their way of life.”
Mills made history as the first U.S. Marine to lead a NATO regional command in combat when he took command of RC Southwest when it stood up on July 3, 2010 to provide oversight of International Security Assistance Forces operating in southwestern Afghanistan.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve with the caliber of troops we had work under us … and with the command we’ve had over our heads, but most importantly it’s been an honor and privilege to serve with our Afghan brothers,” said Mills. “[They] have come a long way through hard work, courage, and perseverance and I believe they will succeed.”
RC Southwest conducts counter-insurgency operations in partnership with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in order to protect the Afghan people, develop the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces, and support improved governance and economic development.
The approximately 30,000 member-strong, multi-national coalition of U.S., U.K., Estonia, Denmark, Georgia, Bahrain and Tonga has been partnered with the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps over the past year. The eight nations have undertaken major initiatives to rid the area of insurgent fighters in former strongholds such as Marjah and Sangin.