Longknifes transition Falcon to Iraqi control
August 2, 2011
BAGHDAD, Aug. 3, 2011 -- Forward Operating Base Falcon, under the control of U.S. forces since 2003, has been transitioned to the Iraqis in preparation for the December 2011 drawdown of forces in Iraq.
It was Soldiers with the 5th "Longknife" Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, who in July transitioned the facility to the Iraqis.
Logistics convoys moved assets almost continuously from Falcon weeks before the final changeover was complete. Nearly every piece of equipment was loaded into shipping containers and hauled away. The only things left behind were the installation's buildings and the equipment necessary to run them -- things like air conditioners and plumbing.
"I don't think many people realize how many logistical assets it takes to keep a place like JSS (Joint Security Station) Falcon running," said 1st Lt. Vincent Femano, 5th Sqdn. "It all had to be moved at just the right moment to make sure they had enough time to move, while not depriving Soldiers of the services they provide for longer than necessary."
As the logistical assets moved out of the JSS, they passed by security on the perimeter and patrols around the installation. Security was the chief concern for leaders as assets moved from JSS Falcon. The Longknife Squadron received assistance from units across United States Division - Center to ensure the transition was conducted as efficiently and safely as possible.
"It's still dangerous out there," said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Askey, a platoon sergeant with Blackfoot Troop. "Preparing for and preventing the next attack is always on the front of my mind."
Askey said that although the move put Soldiers in a somewhat vulnerable position while it was taking place, the squadron compensated by increasing their presence and the number of security measures.
The buildings and the land were returned to 2nd Iraqi Federal Police, or IFP, Division to be used as a base of operations in the strategically significant Rasheed district of Baghdad. Before the move, the 2nd IFP Div. already owned the area surrounding JSS Falcon, making the transition relatively seamless.
JSS Falcon's closure represents one part of the gradual reduction of United States security presence in Iraq and the eventual transition to security being entirely provided by Iraqi Security Forces. More bases around the country will be transitioned back to Iraqi Security Forces control as a U.S. presence is no longer necessary in the area.
Though JSS Falcon has returned to Iraqi control, the Longknife Squadron will continue to advise and assist the 2nd and 4th Iraqi Federal Police Divisions on security matters for the duration of its deployment.