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Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan Challenge Coin Circa 2003-2007

Unit Insignia
Unit Insignia

With Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan stretching over a decade, there have been a variety of military commands, and commanders. Between 2003 and 2007 one such transitional command included the Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan (CFC-A). Meant as a higher echelon command structure, it helped coordinate the efforts of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with the diplomatic mission of the US Embassies in Kabul and elsewhere. While its presence was limited, today the success of America’s efforts in Afghanistan would not have been made possible without this valuable efforts of working with the Afghan government and coordinating security efforts.

Headquartered at Bagram Airfield for a majority of its tenure, CFC-A served as a Corps-level coalition headquarters answering to US Central Command (CENTCOM), and replacing its predecessor the Combined Joint Task Force – 180 (CJTF-180). The mission for CFC-A also continued on as (1) coordinating and conducting counterinsurgency operations to destroy remaining Al Qaeda and hostile Taliban forces that threaten the Transitional Government of Afghanistan, (2) train the Afghan National Army, and (3) conduct directed information operations, civil military operations and humanitarian assistance operations (in coordination with the ITGA) and establish a stable and secure Afghanistan capable of deterring/defeating the re-emergence of terrorism. [1]

CFC-A Change of Command
CFC-A Change of Command

Manning for the transitional headquarters command continued to stem from the XVIII Airborne Corps (first identified as CJTF 76 and then later CJTF 82), and the first CFC-A Commander was Lieutenant General (LTG) David W. Barno who served at CFC-A between 2003 and 2005. [2] Succeeding LTG Barno as CFC-A Commander was LTG Karl E. Eikenberry until the unit’s deactivation was finalized in January 2007. [3] Throughout its mission, CFC-A held authority over two sub-commands, CJTF 101 (comprised of elements from the 101st Airborne) that was responsible for tactical operations and mentorship of the Afghan National Army Corps and below, and Afghan National Police districts. Secondly, CJTF Phoenix that was responsible for Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and mentorship of the Afghan Ministries of Defense and Interior. These dual sub-commands, combined with the coordination of CFC-A’s effort to improve lower level coordination alongside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, resulted in significant lessons learned in the execution of interagency policy that could be applied in other countries and situations. [4]

CFC-A Deactivation Ceremony
CFC-A Deactivation Ceremony

In January 2007 CFC-A was deactivated and its responsibilities were transferred to CJTF-76 headquarters in Bagram, which then became ISAF’s Regional Command – East (RC-E) headquarters. By 2008 CJTF-76 had transferred to CJTF-82, and again transferred to CJTF-101, before the final transition of RC-E to the United States Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A), which remains garrisoned in Bagram. This gradual transition enabled the Afghan government to assume an ever-growing level of responsibility as ISAF and NATO efforts draws back.

 

 

 

Challenge Coin

The 2” challenge coin presented by the CFC-A Commander was consistent throughout the unit’s four-year existence. Both sides incorporate symbols from the unit insignia that were recognized by the US military on August 25th, 2005. Both sides are epoxy coated to protect the color and designs of the coin.

Obverse

Reverse
Reverse

The Obverse features the primary symbol associated to the CFC-A command – the unit insignia. Against an antique finished field, and centered is an American Bald Eagle (a traditional national emblem and also an ancient symbol of power and victory), stooping Proper. The eagle is poised above a representative snow-capped mountain peak meant to symbolize the rugged mountain terrain of Afghanistan, while the snow symbolizes the promotion of regional security and stability. [5] Along the bottom of the mountain and written in small white text is “Operation Enduring Freedom) denoting the participating operation of CFC-A’s efforts. Along the outer edge of the Obverse is a similar deep blue band with “Combined Forces Command” written in antique finish across the top, and “Afghanistan” along the bottom denoting the challenge coin’s organizational command. Separating these two writings are three five-pointed stars on both sides denoting the command rank of the CFC-A LTG Commander.

 

Reverse

Obverse
Obverse

Centered on the Reverse against a field in antique finish, made to represent a map of Afghanistan and its surrounding region, the command flag of a three-star LTG appears in red with white stars. The background map identifies Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan as the regional countries influencing CFC-A operations. At the bottom of the map appears a text box reading “Freedom 6” denoting the moniker for the CFC-A Commander. Along the outer edge is a deep blue band wherein reads “Presented for Excellence By” along the top, and “Commanding General CFC-A” along the bottom. Both the top and bottom edging text are written in the same antique finish as the background and coin.

 

 

 

 

Alternate Version

While the CFC-A challenge coin had a comparatively limited run, there was in fact an alternate version developed for the CFC-A senior Noncommissioned Officer. Featuring the exact same design on both sides, the only difference appears on the Obverse where the enlisted rank of Command Sergeant Major replaces the command flag. Additionally, below the enlisted rank in the text box is written “Freedom 7” denoting the moniker for CFC-A’s most senior enlisted member.

Reverse
Reverse
Obverse
Obverse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Works Cited

1. Mansager, Tucker B. “Interagency Lessons Learned in Afghanistan.” Joint Forces Quarterly, January 2006.

2. PFC Fusco, Vincent C. Eikenberry Takes Command of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. News, US Department of Defense, American Forces Press Service, 2005, 2.

3. TSGT DeWitt, Christopher. Outgoing Commander Says U.S. Commitment Will Live On in Afghanistan. News, US Department of Defense, American Forces Press Service, 2007, 2.

4. Maloney, Sean M. Afghanistan Four Years On: An Assessment. Parameters, 2005, 32.

5. The Institute of Heraldry. USAE Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan. January 2013. http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Heraldry/ArmyDUISSICOA/ArmyHeraldryUnit.aspx?u=2993 (accessed April 15, 2013).

6. Kenyon, Henry S. “Kabul Facility Brings Big Picture to Coalition Commanders.” SIGNAL Magazine. February 2006. http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=node/1089 (accessed April 13, 2013).

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