Multinational Division Baghdad Transfers Battle Space to Iraqi Army
American Forces Press Service
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, Mar. 3, 2006 U.S. and coalition troops in the Baghdad area handed control of operations in western Baghdad and eastern Abu Ghraib to Iraqi soldiers in a ceremony yesterday.
Iraqi soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, stand tall during a transfer of authority ceremony March 2 at Forward Operating Base Constitution. The Iraqi army brigade assumed security responsibilities from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. Photo by Spc. Jason Thompson, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, handed over operations to 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, during a transfer of authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Constitution.
"We are comrades. The Iraqi army and the American forces are brothers. We bleed together. We shed tears over the same fallen comrades," Iraqi Brig. Gen. Aziz Noor, commander of 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, said.
The transfer of operations was one of the largest and most prominent since coalition forces began training Iraqi troops, officials said.
"The American forces are giving freedom back to the people of Iraq, just as they did in Japan, Germany and Korea," Aziz said. "We are receiving this area of responsibility and the job to protect it. God willing, we will be able to do so."
More than 1,500 members of the Iraqi army stood proudly in formation as the ceremony took place.
"Today marks a great day for the people of Baghdad and the country of Iraq as we celebrate the accomplishments of this brigade," U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey Snow, 1st BCT commander, said. "Never have I seen a group of soldiers learn so quickly and advance so efficiently."
The two brigades have been working alongside each other for several months in training and operations ridding the area of insurgents and winning the hearts of the Iraqi people. "Soldiers of the (American and Iraqi units) are truly brothers in arms," Snow said. "We both sacrifice for life, liberty and the belief that all people -- no matter their tribe, religion or background -- can live together as one."
The Iraqi soldiers' success has been aided by the support of tribal leaders, police, council members and local citizens, officials said.
"The price of freedom will always be paid through the blood and hard work of the Iraqi soldiers and police force," Snow said. "Without your efforts, there is no future for this great land."
The Iraqi soldiers were clearly excited as the day progressed, and displayed their enthusiasm to continue the fight. "It is a great day and a great thing to be taking over these operations, and we gladly assume the responsibilities before us," Aziz said. "We were able to secure the Abu Ghraib area, and we will work together with the citizens to bring more security to the area and rid it of terrorists."
Coalition forces will continue to transfer security responsibilities to the Iraqi army. "The Iraqi army has gained the trust and support of the local citizens, who are the ultimate source of strength for Iraq's future," Snow said. "The Iraqi army is here for all people. And just as the army must be as one force in order to be effective, so must the people they serve.
"This is your army, and they represent all Iraqis in words and deed," he said. "Follow its example, and this country will never fail, nor tire and Iraq will once again take its place as the center of knowledge and culture in the Middle East."
(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)