BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN -- Col. Kimberly Colloton officially assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA), during a change of command ceremony Saturday at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Colloton comes to TAA after previously serving as the commander for both the USACE Albuquerque and Los Angeles Districts and is TAA's first female commander.
Col. Jon Chytka relinquished command to Colloton during a ceremony in the rose garden at the Jirga Center. Chytka has served TAA as both commander and deputy commander on two separate deployments to Afghanistan.
Transatlantic Division Commander Brig. Gen. David Hill presided over the ceremony and during his remarks, emphasized that the Army continues to make top selections in establishing command teams to sustain the district's mission and continue forward.
"Kim is certainly the right person to lead the Transatlantic Afghanistan District into the future. Her education, professional credentials and varied Army assignments make her well suited to serve as the commander here," Hill said.
Colloton thanked Chytka in her remarks for his team's great work and is committed to building upon all of the remarkable work Chytka started and the relationships he has built.
"The environment we work in here is extremely challenging, but our charge is clear - we must deliver on our commitments, ensure the projects and programs we have been asked to execute for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NATO and U.S. Forces -- aid in accomplishing their objectives, missions and visions," Colloton stated.
Colloton added recruitment of skilled and experienced staff will have positive impact on Afghanistan facility and infrastructures projects.
"We can't deliver -- unless we have the right people to do so; taking care of our people, recruiting people with the right skills and abilities, as well as always working together as a team we make us successful."
According to Hill, during Chytka's time as commander, TAA awarded 45 projects valued at $88 million; completed 29 projects, valued at $33million; and through the Afghan First Initiative, more than $10 million of those dollars went to local construction companies -- allowing them to build the economy, employ the populace, increase domestic production, and frown the Afghan construction sector.
"Jon, thank you for your leadership of the Transatlantic Afghanistan District and your 27 years of service. There are many of us here today, who personally know how heavy the weight of command is," Hill said. "You are a true visionary, and have been determined and tremendously effective in encouraging your team while delivering appropriate and smart solutions to the international community. Your ability to foresee multiple sides of situations and problems and anticipate future needs and challenges has been of great benefit to the district."
In a very emotional farewell speech, Chytka took the opportunity to reflect on his time in command and thank the more than 250 USACE civilians and military personnel who deployed during the past year.
"I'd like to recognize the district's civilians and military who deployed over the last year in support of our Resolute Support mission. I have had the privilege to lead an incredible team of "can do" professionals from 40 different units and agencies volunteering from locations all over the world," said Chytka.
"Side-by-side leveraging each other's talent our supported commands and the district are making progress and a difference for Afghanistan. I thank you for volunteering to come here and serve with the coalition Armed Forces, and I thank your families for their loving support to you," he stated.
Chytka's next assignment will be at the Naval War College where he will serve as a history professor.
The ceremony ended with Colloton thanking Hill for passing her colors and along with it, entrusting her with the responsibility and opportunity to lead TAA's team of exceptional professionals.