The Fort Campbell Courier

Kandarian takes command of Strike

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Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2009 12:00 am

Colonel William B. Hickman relinquished command of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, to Col. Arthur A. Kandarian during a change of command ceremony at the Division Parade Field Friday.

Following 26 months as the 15th Colonel of the Regiment, Hickman will move on to serve as the executive officer for the commander of U.S. Central Command.

Hickman led the "Strike" Brigade into Iraq in October 2007, where they served as the main effort for Multi-National Division - Baghdad in northwest Baghdad.

The brigade rapidly partnered with Iraqi Security Forces and government officials to protect the population and disrupt enemy activity.

Under Hickman's leadership, the brigade left its mark in the "heart" of Iraq, having greatly reduced violence, denying al Qaeda and Special Groups criminal's safe haven, and helping improve the economy and essential services of northwest Baghdad.

From parachuting into Normandy to the jungles of Southeast Asia, Hickman's leadership, along with the Soldiers of the Strike Brigade, helped add to the storied history of this remarkable brigade.

"[Colonel] Bill Hickman continued this great legacy and prepared his warriors for their rendezvous with destiny in the dense urban sprawl of northwest Baghdad and the open farm countries south of Baghdad," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Townsend, deputy commanding general, Fort Campbell. "[Hickman] and his Soldiers were immediately thrust into one of the most complex environments of shifting sectarian strife we have ever seen. For 13 long months, [his] Strike Brigade was positioned directly on a convoluted fault line between Sunni and Shia extremists and they emerged victorious."

Townsend said the Soldiers of the brigade matched each challenge with amazing progress. For every successful combat operation, there were also incredible achievements in essential services, governance and security.

"Bill I know it's never easy to relinquish command of warriors you have led in battle," said Kandarian, "but I just want to say to you that you and your Strike Brigade are one tough and dependable team - a command well done."

Hickman, however, could not go out without thanking the Soldiers of this historic brigade.

"Without going into details over the last two years, just believe me all six battalions excelled in their way, all focused on the mission and all succeeded," said Hickman. "We the leaders of this great brigade built a team of professional, proficient air assault Soldiers - a BCT with aggressive, adaptive situational aware leaders highly trained, capable of leading units, synchronizing resources to accomplish the mission."

Hickman said he led a unit of professional Soldiers that exhibited selfless service on a daily basis.

"I cannot be prouder of an organization than I was when we were accomplishing our mission in Iraq nor on todays parade field," said Hickman.

However, this was a day to welcome in a new commander as well - the 16th Colonel of the Regiment.

"I've got complete confidence for a bright future for the Strike Brigade," said Townsend. "I first met Colonel Art Kandarian when he arrived at the Ranger Regiment as a young captain. I watched him from afar as Art commanded a Ranger company, as he earned a Silver Star as a major at Haditha, as he commanded a Bastogne Battalion during their second tour in Iraq. Art is a veteran 101st commander, who will lead Strike to new victories."

Kandarian looks to carry on the great legacy of the Strike Brigade, knowing fully the history and abilities of this regiment.

"To the Soldiers, families and leaders of Strike, I am honored to have this privilege to command and I will serve you as best I know," Kandarian said. "To the Soldiers, families and leaders of Strike, a great mentor of mine had a saying which is timeless and true that right now as we speak there are people in places who's country's names that you and I cannot pronounce who are plotting to overthrow our country and our way of life, as we know it, we must not allow it.

"To the Soldiers, families and leaders of Strike, through three deployments this regiment never allowed that to happen and nor will we in the future," Kandarian continued. "We will never forget. I am honored to join your ranks. I pledge to you my best."

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