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Iraqi Brigade Assumes Responsibility for Central Baghdad

By Pfc. Jason Dangel, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Feb. 21, 2006 – The 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, assumed responsibility from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, for areas in central and southern Baghdad yesterday during a battlespace transfer-of-authority ceremony at Forward Operating Base Honor.

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Soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, march during the Feb. 20 battlespace transfer-of-authority ceremony between their brigade and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Photo by Pfc. Jason Dangel, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

The ceremony took place after many months of training and combined missions between the two units, in which the soldiers of the U.S. unit assisted the Iraqi soldiers in preparation to assume the battlespace inside and around the International Zone.

Col. Mohammed Wasif, the 5th Brigade commander, accepted responsibility from Col. Michael Beech, the 4th BCT commander, as the Iraqi unit became the latest to gain control of its own area of responsibility.

"This brigade has trained hard, and we are ready for the mission," Mohammed said to the crowd of spectators. "We promised God and the government that we will remain loyal soldiers, defending the borders of this country."

The assumption marks the continued progress in the Iraqi security forces' capabilities, officials said.

"This event sends a clear message to those who wish to disrupt or doubt the successful future of Iraq," Beech said. "As our combined forces continue to grow, we will follow the Iraqi lead as they continue to keep the pressure on the enemies of a free Iraq."

Beech said he remains optimistic about the new transition. The Iraqi army is now responsible for the security of nearly 60 percent of the Baghdad area. This is important in light of the fact the country is preparing for the upcoming seating of the Council of Representatives, he added.

The 5th Brigade soldiers have been operating independently for months with little or no assistance from 4th BCT, Beech said, and as they take the lead in operations in central and southern Baghdad, both units will continue to work together.

"Our mission remains the same," Beech said. "We are proud to continue combined operations as allies and to support the success of the 5th Brigade."

The 6th Iraqi Division is responsible for all the battlespace in Baghdad. The 5th Brigade's area of operations covers about 50 square kilometers of the city.

The brigade's three battalions will operate primarily inside the International Zone and the Karradah Peninsula. Iraqi security forces will be responsible for running various checkpoints in the area of operations.

"The responsibility of our army is to protect this country and its people," said Maj. Gen. Mubdar Hatim Hazya al-Duleimi, commanding general, 6th Division, "and because of the bravery of our armed forces that sacrifice themselves on a daily basis, the amount of insurgent activity will continue to decrease."

The 4th BCT arrived in December and worked as part of the Multinational Division Baghdad. The unit relinquished control of Forward Operating Base Honor to its Iraqi counterparts Jan. 31.

(Army Pfc. Jason Dangel is assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageCol. Mohammed Wasif, commander, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, addresses his troops Feb. 20 during a battle space transfer-of-authority ceremony with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at Forward Operating Base Honor. Photo by Pfc. Jason Dangel, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn Iraqi martial arts expert exhibits his skill during the Feb. 20 transfer-of-battlespace ceremony between the 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at Forward Operating Base Honor. Photo by Pfc. Jason Dangel, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn Iraqi gunner from the 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, mans the turret of an up-armored Humvee during the brigade's Feb. 20 battlespace transfer-of-authority ceremony with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at Forward Operating Base Honor. Photo by Pfc. Jason Dangel, USA  
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