The Southern European Task Force has a new name to go with its new mission.

SETAF, which has operated in Italy since 1955, is now also calling itself U.S. Army Africa. Maj. Gen. William Garrett, the SETAF commander, used both names in an address to his troops that was recently posted on the command’s Web site. SETAF was officially designated the Army component of U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, the newest major command, in December.

Col. Stephen Mariano, chief of strategic plans, policies and assessment, said the change in mission means that SETAF has gone from a rapidly deployable command headquarters to an organization that oversees Army operations in Africa.

"Our insertion of the U.S. Army Africa after (SETAF) is just to acknowledge the change," he said.

He said Garrett and other members of the command still have roles to play in Italy, though, and he doesn’t believe the SETAF designation is going away "any time soon."

"We are SETAF and we do have a history with Italy," Mariano said. "We are not going to do anything to break the commitment we made to Italy."

That commitment was originally made after U.S. forces withdrew from Austria in 1955. That, in theory, left the northeast section of Italy vulnerable to a potential attack from NATO’s Cold War enemies, so SETAF was formed. It was originally headquartered at Camp Darby, then moved to Verona, where troop strength reached 10,000. The organization has been based in Vicenza since 1965 at about a third of its former strength.

The number of U.S. troops assigned to SETAF shrank even further with the switch to U.S. Africa Command, because the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team now reports directly to U.S. Army Europe. That leaves SETAF with fewer than 300 active-duty personnel.

USAREUR also uses the designation 7th Army in much of its communications and Mariano said the new addition for SETAF is similar in that it reflects multiple missions. Though the lengthened unit designation might cause some confusion, he said, it is actually meant to do the opposite.

SETAF won’t carry any significance in African countries where the Vicenza-based command will now concentrate most of its efforts. But Mariano said those countries should easily deduce that they’re dealing with the Army element of the U.S. command responsible for Africa.

Mariano said there are no plans to address the name change in uniform patches. Soldiers recently started wearing the original SETAF patch after the unit lost its airborne status because of the change in mission.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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