BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 28, 2017 —
Task Force (TF) ODIN officially relinquished the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission for all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan during a ceremony held here today, to TF Lightning – the 525th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade (E-MIB) from Fort Bragg, N.C.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, U.S. Forces Afghanistan deputy commander for support and Bagram Airfield commander, presided over the mission transfer ceremony.
Nearly a hundred guests and members of both units watched as U.S. Army Col. Mark A. Colbrook and Command Sgt. Maj. Lee K. Yoneyama, TF ODIN commander and command sergeant major, cased the Task Force (TF) ODIN unit colors signifying the end of the task force mission.
After the TF ODIN colors were cased, U.S. Army Col. James E. Walker and Command Sgt. Maj. Edward A. Baptiste, TF Lightning commander and command sergeant major, unfurled the 525th E-MIB unit colors signifying their assumption of the mission.
“It’s a great day at Bagram as we honor two great formations,” said Thomson. “Today is symbolic of two transitions. The first is the traditional transition of authority from one command team and formation to another, the second is a bit more nuanced.
“For the past eight years, Task Force ODIN has led and synchronized ISR for this theater. However, as forces and structure reduced, Task Force ODIN picked up more functions and responsibilities. In its earlier days it managed aerial ISR,” continued Thomson. “Today it also does ground ISR, counter-intelligence, biometrics, captured equipment exploitation, and a whole lot more.”
“To the men and women of Task Force ODIN…you have and continue to provide the coalition and Afghan security forces with a decisive advantage. You hunt down named objectives. You deliver pinpoint, lethal strikes. You provide early warning and tactical over-watch. You find homemade explosives and illicit narcotics. You provide evidence for convictions in Afghan courts. You disrupt the enemy’s reconnaissance efforts and their mission command cycle. You help protect the force.”
“None of this happens without leadership, strong leadership. To Colonel Mark Colbrook, along with Command Sergeant Major Lemon and Command Sergeant Major Daigle who have already redeployed, and Command Sergeant Major Yoneyama, I thank you all for your tremendous teamwork and your tremendous leadership. We are blessed to have you on the USFOR-A team,” Thomson added.
“Colonel Walker, Command Sergeant Major Baptiste…Command Sergeant Major Jackson and I welcome you and your troopers to the CJOA-A [Combined Joint Operations Area – Afghanistan] and we look forward to serving with you,” Thomson stated as he welcomed the new command team. “You have our utmost confidence and I know that we are in good hands. You guys are going to knock it out of the park.”
Task Force (TF) ODIN (Observe, Detect, Identify and Neutralize) was a brigade-sized element comprised of two battalions staffed with individual augmentees from all U.S. military services as well as Department of Defense civilian employees and contractors. The brigade provided a battalion of manned and unmanned aerial ISR support, and a battalion of ground intelligence collection that included specialized units in biometrics and a collection material exploitation laboratory.
TF ODIN was originally established in Iraq in 2006 to counter improvised explosive devices using a fleet of manned and unmanned aircraft. In 2009, TF ODIN Afghanistan was formed to increase the survivability of coalition forces engaged in combat across the CJOA-A. This transfer of authority formally deactivates this task force.
“This organization provides a wide and diverse set of multi-functional intelligence capabilities to the theater,” said Colbrook. “It’s a testament to the professionalism of our service members, civilians, and contractors that they have been able to pull this together from people and equipment from across DoD [Department of Defense] in order to accomplish these tasks and the mission.”
“Jay, it has been great to get to know you and your incoming team,” he continued. “I know that you are postured to not only succeed, but to thrive in the future. I couldn’t be happier than to see the 5-2-5 pick up this mission and I think you will set the standard for where the Army needs to go in the future.”
TF Lightning becomes Afghanistan’s only multi-disciplined intelligence organization in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support Mission.
“As we uncase the brigade colors today I can confidently report that the Soldiers that serve under those colors are extremely well trained on the tasks that they must accomplish. They are disciplined in the execution of their duties and are mentally and physically fit,” he added.
“In short, this brigade is prepared for what lies ahead and mission focused on the mission at hand.”
The 525th E-MIB traces its lineage to World War II and the 218th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment and the 525th Interrogation Team. It was reactivated at Fort Bragg in 1948 as the 525th Headquarters Intelligence Detachment. This units also has service during the Korean War, Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, and multiple tours with the XVIII Airborne Corps in Iraq.