Third Infantry Division Commanding General Robert "Abe" Abrams return from Afghanistan was not as originally planned.
He was pulled back early for a promotion and a top Pentagon post as senior military adviser to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
"As a commander, that's a tough pill to swallow. You know, to be sent back and, you know, to be asked to change commands before your team gets back," Abrams said. "We still have almost 6,000 soldiers deployed."
At one point, the flags and guidons of Third ID were literally all over Afghanistan - a far cry from when Abrams got here.
"You know, when I took command in April of 2011, not one unit in the Third Infantry Division was on a - what we call the patch chart. Not one unit was programmed for deployment - not one - to include the division headquarters. Within 30 days, that changed," he said.
And that ramped up dramatically over the next several months.
On Jan. 5, 2012, the Battle Boars 1-30 Infantry boarded an airplane for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA, for a special 10-day focused training period, just to get them ready for the mission that they're going to have in Afghanistan.
They restructured and deployed for nine months - in a unique partnership with special operators.
"1/30's performance downrange – phenomenal. I mean, they really did a phenomenal job," Abrams said.
They all came home - highly honored.
"I could not be prouder of this outfit and the accomplishments of our soldiers," said Ltc. Mike Jason, commander 1-30th Infantry Regiment.
But as the general lamented, others are still there such as the Fourth Brigade Vanguard, located south of Kabul.
"Vanguard has been in a very, very tough fight," Abrams said. "Col. Gallahue and his leaders have done a fantastic job turning around an Afghan brigade that was really well behind the rest of Afghanistan. It has come at a very, great cost, however. And we absolutely grieve with all the families who have been affected."
Quite a few Vanguard soldiers were badly wounded. Some are at Walter Reed. Two are still in Germany in very bad shape. Some just got back to Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart. Abrams is keeping up with them and their families.
He also praised the Third Combat Aviation Brigade and Third Sustainment Brigade many of whom are still in Afghanistan.
Watch WTOC-TV at 6 p.m. Wednesday for Sonny Dixon's report on the challenges ahead for the Third ID, the army and Abrams in his new role at the Pentagon.