Maj. Gen. William Blaylock II, commanding general, 35th Infantry Division, Kansas Army National Guard, assumed command of Task Force Spartan from Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, commanding general, 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 20. The transfer of authority ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gen. Terry Ferrell, commanding general, U.S. Army Central.
During the same ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Stuenkel, division command sergeant major, 35th Infantry Division, assumed responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Daryl Plude, division command sergeant major, 29th Infantry Division.
“We want to continue what the 29th has started and push to the next level,” said Blaylock, addressing the Kuwait Land Forces present at the ceremony. “We will work to reinforce these relationships. The 35th Infantry Division is here to support you.”
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. “We are stronger together than we are individually,” said Blaylock. “We must continue to build trust by treating others with respect, demonstrating integrity, and taking care of each other.”
This marks the second time the 35th Infantry Division has taken command of Task Force Spartan. The 35th Infantry Division was first called to deploy for Operation Spartan Shield in 2017 as the division headquarters.
Task Force Spartan is a multicomponent organization, comprised of Soldiers from the active-duty Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve. Exercising command and control over Operation Spartan Shield, Task Force Spartan maintains a U.S. military presence in Southwest Asia to strengthen U.S. defense relationships and build partner capacity in the Gulf region.