CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – More than 120 team members of the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 gathered July 3 to welcome U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Balan R. Ayyar as their new commander and bid farewell to U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber.
International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Commander U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. presided over the change of command ceremony held in the CJIATF 435 Headquarters courtyard.
Ayyar, who has been in the Air Force for 26 years, has served as the 435 deputy commanding general since October 2012. Prior to that, he commanded the Air Force Recruiting Service at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Ayyar began his remarks reminding his forces of the importance of their new responsibilities.
“Every day in this mission we must protect our nation’s values and, by extension, our nation’s forces. Every day in this mission we must support our campaign and its centers of gravity – our strategic alignment with the broader campaign remains critical.”
CJIATF 435 trains, advises and assists the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Justice Sector to develop Rule of Law-based investigation, prosecution and detention. It also conducts U.S. Law of Armed Conflict detainee operations for third-country nationals. Touching on how the organization began focusing on U.S. LOAC detention operations and now focuses on building the capacity of Afghans, the brigadier general stressed that the 435 mission will end by creating the same capabilities operated by the Afghans under Afghan law.
“None of this will be easy, but I’m confident that we’re up to the task, as is the larger campaign, in setting the conditions for security that will ultimately lead a historic political transition,” Ayyar said. “The legacy of CJIATF 435 must be Afghanistan’s capacity, capability and will to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate insurgent and terror-related crimes – to keep their own nation, our forces, the region and ultimately our nation safe from attack in the years to come.”
Thanking the audience for their presence, Huber said he was privileged to serve as the CJIATF 435 leader for two years, since July 2011. The lieutenant general is set to retire upon his return to the U.S., following 38 years of military service.
“I’m thankful for the tasks that we’ve been given and for the ability to change and improve ourselves as human beings,” Huber said. “You have all allowed me the privilege to serve you, to serve with you, to learn from you. So as I now return to my precious family with thoughts and prayers for all of you and for your safe return, I will return as a better husband, father, brother and a better grandfather.”
Dunford also praised CJIATF 435 for its positive impact on what he considers the most difficult mission in the force – one that requires the most discipline, focus and commitment.
“We don’t often think about who we are or what we do, or in the case of 435, the significant strategic consequences and the impact of what we do. You are part of a historic time in Afghanistan,” Dunford said.
“I would like you to think about two things that you have done: one, you have kept our honor clean,” the ISAF and USFOR-A commander continued. “What we bring to the fight in Afghanistan, we bring our values to the Coalition. What you do every day reflects those values. We have become the standard for the International Red Cross on how to securely and humanely treat enemy combatants.
“Second, you helped secure the force,” Dunford said. “I have no doubt that there are many that are alive because of your efforts in the detention facility and to keep individuals off the battlefield.”