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Corps' Command Change Marks Year Of Iraq Transition

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2005 – Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz handed off command of Multinational Corps Iraq to Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines during a Feb. 10 ceremony at Al-Faw Palace near Baghdad.

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Attendees at the Multinational Corps Iraq transfer-of- authority ceremony Feb. 10 salute the flag during a singing of the Star Spangled Banner.(Photo by Sgt. David Foley, USA)
  

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Metz, commands 3rd Corps and Fort Hood, Texas; Vines leads 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, N.C. The generals' staffs have worked over the past few weeks in preparation for the transition.

"There is never a good time to make a change of this magnitude," observed Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. George Casey, who attended the ceremony.

However, coming on the heels of the successful Jan. 30 Iraqi nationwide elections, he noted it's "not a bad time either."

The Metz-Vines change-of-command ceremony, Casey observed, marks the "first in a year of critical transitions for Iraq."

Other transfers will include the transfer from the interim Iraqi government to the Iraqi transitional government, the drafting and adopting of an Iraqi constitution, and the holding of elections for a constitutionally elected Iraqi government that will take place at the end of 2005.

The year will also see more responsibility counterinsurgencies transferred to Iraqi security forces preparing to become more independent.

"Each of these transitions and the coalition's role in them is singularly focused on helping Iraq secure the liberty it gained on the 28th of June and that it cemented on the 30th of January," Casey said. The then-Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi interim government on June 28, 2004.

"All of these transitions will be in some way dependent upon the great 18th Airborne Corps team that General Vines has built," Casey said. "We welcome the corps and its associated units, and we wish them all the best in the year ahead."

The future of Iraq and America's significant national interests there, Casey observed, "rest squarely with J.R. Vines and his team. And I am confident they are up to the task."

Casey said part of what gives him so much confidence in the airborne unit is based on the accomplishments of Metz's 3rd Corps over the last year.

"Members of the Phantom Corps," Casey said, addressing 3rd Corps troops at the ceremony, "you have made an incredible difference here in Iraq over the past year, and it culminated in the elections on the 30th of January."

While handing command of Multinational Corps Iraq to Vines, Metz said he is proud of the job his soldiers did in Iraq and expressed his belief that the 18th Airborne Corps will successfully continue the mission.

Metz noted he is departing with more confidence than ever that a "free prosperous Iraq that lives by the rule of law and does not harbor terrorists" is in the very near future.

"There are few people wearing the uniform who have personally done more for the global war on terrorism than you," Metz said to Vines, "and there is no other commander to whom I would rather have given the colors to."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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18th Airborne Corps
3rd Corps
Multinational Force Iraq

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander, Multinational Corps Iraq and 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, hands the MNCI colors to Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, former MNCI sergeant major during the transfer-of- authority ceremony at Al-Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Iraq, Feb. 10. (Photo by Sgt. Mark St.Clair, USA)  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFrom the left: Army Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., commander, Multinational Force Iraq; Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey J. Mellinger, MNFI sergeant major; Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander, Multinational Corps; and Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, former MNCI commander, salute the colors during the singing of the national anthem during the transfer-of-authority ceremony between 18th Airborne and 3rd Corps at Al-Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Iraq, Feb. 10. (Photo by Sgt. Mark St.Clair, USA)  
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