17th FiB TOA
Col. Steven Bullimore, 17th Fires Brigade commander and native of St. Joseph, Mo., and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Santos, 17th Fires Bde. and native of Saipan, Guam, prepare to case the brigade colors during a ceremony celebrating the transfer of authority to the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, held in the chapel on Contingency Operating Base Basra, Iraq, June 17, 2010.

COB BASRA, Iraq -- A transfer-of-authority ceremony between the 17th Fires Brigade and 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division was held in the chapel on COB Basra June 17, 2010.

The ceremony marked a significant reduction of forces in Iraq as Col. Steven Bullimore, 17th Fires Brigade commander, relinquished control over operations in Basra Province to Col. James Rainey, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division commander. With the departure of the 17th Fires Brigade, the number of maneuver brigades in U.S. Division-South drops from three to two.

Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, USD-S commander, served as the reviewing officer of the ceremony.

"This transition of authority represents an important milestone in the history of the 17th Fires Brigade and the U.S. Forces commitment to Basra," Brooks said.

Brooks said the security and economic development of the province was largely due to the 17th FiB's support and their commitment to working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, provincial government, and local businessmen.

Bullimore and his Soldiers arrived in Basra in July of 2009, replacing a unit nearly twice its size, with a focus on partnering and conducting operations by, with and through Iraqi Security Forces.

"We are honored to have served with the extraordinary leaders here in Basra Province," said Bullimore. "The senior leadership across the Iraqi Security Forces is remarkable and their patience, understanding and teamwork are refreshing."

Over the course of the year, the 17th FiB managed over 100 projects, providing water, electricity, schools and trash receptacles throughout Basra Province valued at approximately $100 million dollars, altering the lives of more than 2 million Basrawis.

The brigade also played an integral role in March's parliamentary elections by assisting the ISF with planning, rehearsals, and logistics, which aided international observation and election monitoring teams in judging a fair and free election in Basra Province.

"We will cherish the memories and the friendships which blossomed during our time in Iraq for the rest of our lives," Bullimore said.

As the red and gold colors of the 17th FiB were cased, the clock stopped on the unit's time in Iraq and started for Rainey and his troops.

"The Soldiers of the "Iron'" brigade will continue to work hard on advising and assisting our great partners in the Iraqi Security Forces," Rainey said.

Rainey said much work remains and they will continue efforts to meet the needs of the people by working with the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team, provincial leaders, and the Government of Iraq.

"We look to build on the success of the 17th Fires Brigade. With our partners we will work hard to develop a secure, stable, and sovereign Iraq," Rainey said.

Page last updated Sat June 19th, 2010 at 17:38