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18th Airborne Corps Says Goodbye to Iraq

American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Jan. 19, 2006 – Army Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli accepted authority as the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq from Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines in a transfer-of-authority ceremony at Camp Victory here today.

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Army Gen. George W. Casey (right), commanding general of Multinational Force Iraq, passes the Multinational Corps colors to Army Lt. Gen Peter W. Chiarelli, commanding general of Task Force Victory, to symbolize the transfer of authority from the former MNCI commander, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, at Camp Victory, Iraq, Jan. 19. Photo by Pfc. Sean C. Finch, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Vines served as the commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, N.C., before replacing Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz as the MNCI commander in 2005. From Iraq, Vines will return to his previous position as commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, at Fort Bragg.

Chiarelli comes to MNCI from his position as the commander of Task Force Victory, from Heidelberg, Germany.

During the ceremony, Army Gen. George W. Casey, commanding general of Multinational Force Iraq, commented on changes in Iraq during Vines's command of MNCI.

"It's been a pretty amazing year for the Multinational Corps," Casey said. "If you think about where you were and what you were thinking about Iraq on the 19th of January last year, I think you'll admit that the prospects of completing three national polls and building the security forces to well over 200,000 might have looked dim to you.

"But the fact of the matter is, over the course of 2005, the people of Iraq have had three national polls," he added. "And in each case, the participation has gotten greater and violence got lower.

"I attribute that, in large measure, to the spirit of teamwork and partnership between the Multinational Corps, Multinational Force, the Iraqi security force and the government of Iraq," Casey said. "To the departing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the 18th Airborne Corps -- well done."

Casey welcomed the incoming MNCI commander and expressed his gratitude to the families of the troops who were a part of MNCI for the past year.

"We couldn't do what we do here, without your support," he said. "And we thank you for your daily sacrifices on our behalf.

"The year 2005 was a historic time in an ancient land," Vines said during his farewell speech. "Although, history is ancient here, a new history began in 2005 as Iraq chose its own government, wrote its own constitution, and decided who would lead it into a new era."

Vines also addressed the recently arrived troops who will replace the 18th Airborne Corps.

"We will return to friends, family and loved ones," Vines said. "But we will never forget you; we will never forget Iraq; we will never forget what has happened here; and we will say a prayer for you, those of us that pray. We will say a prayer for your safety, peace and success, because much rides on this."

"This transfer of authority demonstrates the commitment of the United States to our coalition allies and to the people of Iraq as we continue to partner in every aspect and every respect of this historic mission to achieve a free, democratic and secure Iraq." Chiarelli said during his first speech as the MNCI commander.

"My soldiers and I are honored to serve shoulder to shoulder with you in history in a historic land," he added. "In the months ahead, you will find that our soldiers of the Victory Corps are disciplined, well-trained and committed to continue the excellent work done by Lieutenant General Vines and the soldiers of the 18th Airborne Corps," Chiarelli said.

"Never again will the forces of terror and tyranny be permitted to rule in this great country," he said.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq
18th Airborne Corps

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Lt. Gen. John R. Vines (right), 18th Airborne Corps commander, cases the 18th Airborne Corps colors and prepares to bid Iraq a fond farewell with hopes that operations there will continue to prove successful. Photo by Pfc. Sean C. Finch, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA transfer-of-authority ceremony was held at the al Faw Palace at Camp Victory as the incoming 5th Corps took over the reigns from the outgoing 18th Airborne Corps Jan. 19. Photo by Pfc. Mark B. Matthews, USA  
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