The 82nd Airborne Division is back in charge of the military effort in rugged east Afghanistan, 15 months after completing a command tour that is now cited as a success story.

The 82nd replaced the 101st Airborne Division in a ceremony at Bagram Airfield on Wednesday. The transition comes just weeks before the 82nd’s former commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, arrives in country as the deputy to new overall commander Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Rodriguez — whom McChrystal has said would command day-to-day operations of NATO’s five regional commands in Afghanistan — has been hailed in recent months for the advances credited during his tenure at the head of Regional Command-East.

Similarly, officials at Wednesday’s change of command praised the 101st Airborne for its time in country. While officials have described the situation in many parts of Afghanistan as a "stalemate," they have generally said the east is better off than regions such as the south.

"In partnership with the people of Afghanistan, [the 101st Airborne] has taken the fight to our common enemy and improved the lives of thousands of Afghan citizens," Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the 82nd Airborne, was quoted as saying in a news release.

The 82nd, out of Fort Bragg, N.C., will command RC-East for one year. About 24,000 foreign troops — including 22,000 Americans — and about 32,000 Afghan troops are assigned to the region, which encompasses 14 provinces in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border.

Other parts of the 82nd Airborne are also in Afghanistan. The division’s combat aviation brigade is in RC-South, and the division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team is scheduled to deploy to southern and western Afghanistan later this year.

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