Final SoI transfer in Northern Iraq
April 3, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq - Coalition forces turned over complete authority of the Sons of Iraq program in Salah ad-Din province to the Government of Iraq in the final SoI transfer in Multi-National Division-North at Forward Operating Base Dagger, April 2.
Iraqi government officials, provincial government leaders, sheikhs and military members from the 4th Iraqi Army and 25th Infantry Division celebrated the formal transfer of control with a signing ceremony in a palace on the banks of the Tigris River.
More than 10,000 men in Salah ad-Din registered with the Sons of Iraq program and are scheduled to receive their first paycheck from the Iraqi government in May.
"You are now a part of the Iraqi government. You delivered security to this nation and you will have the support you need from your government," said Abdullah al-Jabouri, the Salah ad-Din deputy governor, as he spoke to the sheikhs gathered for the ceremony. "Salah ad-Din is known as the law enforcement province," he added, thanking them for standing up to terrorists and criminals.
"The Iraqi government is committed to helping the Sahwa [SoI] find employment," said Muzhir al-Mawla, spokesman for the Implementation and Follow up Committee for National Reconciliation, told the sheikhs. Several government ministries have recently started hiring thousands of men, he added.
"Today we transfer responsibility of the SoI program to the Government of Iraq, but I will never lose my respect that I have for you and the commitment I've made to the people of Salah ad-Din," said Col. Walter Piatt, commander, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
"You are more than the Sons of Iraq, you are the fathers of freedom," he added.