CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –
Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, commanding general, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, relinquished command of Task Force Spartan to Maj. Gen. William Blaylock II, commanding general, 35th Infantry Division, Kansas Army National Guard, March 20, 2022, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The transfer of authority ceremony, officiated by Lt. Gen. Ronald Clark, commanding general, U.S. Army Central, signifies the passing of the torch from the 29th to the 35th.
During the same ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Daryl Plude, division command sergeant major, 29th Infantry Division, relinquished responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Stuenkel, division command sergeant major, 35th Infantry Division.
“I’d like to thank the citizens-soldiers of the 29th ID, your efforts and contributions have made a lasting impact on this region,” said Rhodes. “The blue and gray patch we wear on our left shoulder reflects our proud history and the American flag on our right shoulder represents our dedicated service to our country, our home states and our partner nations.”
During the ceremony, the outgoing commander and command sergeant major cased the 29th Infantry Division colors, signifying the end of their tour. The 35th Infantry Division colors were then uncased, opening a new chapter for both the division and for Task Force Spartan.
This is not the first time the 29th or 35th have deployed for OSS. The 29th was the first division to establish Task Force Spartan in 2016 and they handed the mission off to the 35th in 2017.
Both of the divisions trace their histories to the European battlefields of World War I, where each first saw combat during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that stretched the entirety of the war’s western front.
“It has been an honor for the 29th to serve as Task Force Spartan as we relinquish command to the 35th and I am confident the 35th is fully prepared to assume all Spartan missions and advance all U.S. Army Central lines of effort,” said Rhodes.
Task Force Spartan is a multi-component organization, comprised of Soldiers from all three Army components: active Army, National Guard and Army Reserve. Exercising command and control over Operation Spartan Shield, Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen U.S. defense relationships and build partner capacity.