Military Matters: III Corps Uncases Colors, Resumes Duties on Fo - - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Military Matters: III Corps Uncases Colors, Resumes Duties on Fort Hood

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III Corps takes the reins on post.

The last of III Corps' headquarters returned home from Afghanistan Sunday, and Wednesday Lt. Gen. Mark Milley uncased the colors and resumed command of III Corps on Fort Hood.

A band playing, cannons blasting -- it was full fanfare outside III Corps headquarters Wednesday morning. 

Now Milley is back at the helm.

"Hang in there," Milley joked to a crowd of about 300 people sitting in the cold morning air, "this is only a two-hour speech."

Milley and the troops he commands spent almost a year in Afghanistan. Now they're home after what he considers a successful mission.

One major goal accomplished, securing the country in preparation for elections just a couple months away.

"There might have been some doubt a year or two ago," Milley said in an interview after the ceremony, "but today that's no longer in doubt."

"The Afghan security forces have the capability, they've got the size, the skill, the leadership to secure the elections that are coming up. So there's no doubt in my mind that they can do that," he continued.

It comes at a high cost: 151 U.S. and coalition military members died in the 10 months they were there.

"We mourn the losses when they're deployed, we pray for them, we worry about them, so it's a great relief when they return safely," said Killeen mayor Dan Corbin.

Unfortunately, not everyone returned home safely. Four of those killed were from Fort Hood; four more names at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.

"[I] look forward to the day when we will not have to add any more names to those tablets," Corbin said.

Milley told the crowd their sacrifices helped bring the rest of the Phantom Warriors home.

The shutters of cameras and a light wind were the only sounds as Milley and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder uncased the colors, taking control of III Corps on post back from Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi.

Then the color guard marched off, III Corps' flag flying once more alongside the stars and stripes.

They're home for now, but always preparing for the next time.

"Be ready to deploy anywhere, anytime, for whatever mission the nation calls," Milley said, calling it their first priority.

But the deployed soldiers get a hard-earned breather first. They have some leave coming up after the weekend. Most will likely take 30 days to get re-acquainted with their families.

Milley said overall, morale among the troops still overseas is good.

He added he'll have to see how he's going to adjust to being back on post. III Corps grew while he was out of the country, absorbing the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson.

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