MOSUL, Iraq - The 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, handed over responsibility for operations in northern Iraq to the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, during a transfer of authority ceremony Dec. 11 at Forward Operating Base Marez.

The Long Knife Brigade cased their colors for transport back to the U.S., following a 14-month tour in northern Iraq's Ninevah Province, as the 3d ACR unfurled theirs, to symbolize assumption of control of the northern Iraq battlespace and formally mark the beginning of their third rotation in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since 2003.

Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of the 1st Armored Division, Task Force Iron, and Multinational Division - North, began the remarks by observing how, in a bit of historic irony, the Army's newest brigade combat team had just ceded battlefield responsibility to the Army's oldest regiment, and how the Soldiers of the 4th BCT had truly bonded with their Iraqi counterparts, making great progress during their time in MND-N.

"Today is a day of sadness and celebration," said Hertling. "[Col. Stephen Twitty] and his Soldiers have become known as the 'Sons of Ninevah,' and they will be sorely missed. At the same time, they have earned the right to go home and be back with their loved ones, who have missed them dearly. Their presence here (in northern Iraq's Ninevah Province) over the last 14 months...has contributed greatly to the fact that the children here will have a better chance at a brighter future."

Hertling welcomed Col. Michael Bills and the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment and closed by giving Twitty a Cavalryman's Farewell.

"See you on the high ground," added Hertling.

With the majority of the Long Knife Brigade's Soldiers in transition to Kuwait, or already back in the U.S., Col. Stephen Twitty, commander of the Fort Bliss, Texas - based 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, began his address by expressing gratitude to the local Iraqi leaders in attendance that the brigade has worked so closely with during the past 14 months.

"Maj. Gen. Wathiq (Ninevah Provincial Director of Police), Maj. Gen. Khorsheed (3rd Iraqi Army Division commander), and Brig. Gen. Moutaa (2nd Iraqi Army Division commander), your leadership has been inspiring to watch. You have led your soldiers and police with absolute bravery during my time here. Although there is much work ahead of you, I depart knowing that you three are the right leaders to continue the fight and to bring stability and prosperity to the people of this great Province. Continue to lead your men by example and know that I, and the Soldiers of Long Knife, stand by you in spirit as you continue this pursuit. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for your courage, leadership, and most importantly, your friendship," added Twitty.

Performing counterinsurgency operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Long Knife Brigade controlled all of the battlespace in Ninevah Province, located in northern Iraq and containing Mosul - the 2nd largest city in Iraq - as well as Tal'Afar and Qayyarah. With a focus on training the Iraqi Security Forces, promoting responsible governance, and providing security to the Iraqi people; they were instrumental in transferring two Iraqi Army divisions away from Coalition dependence to full Iraqi Ground Forces Command control, and enabling the Provincial Government to fully exercise its ability to assist the Iraqi people in providing for their future.

Addressing the Ninevah Provincial leadership, Twitty continued.

"(Provincial) Governor Kashmoula and (Provincial) Vice Governor Goran, you are superb leaders of the people of this province; and have worked extremely hard to provide the services that the people want and need. Through your efforts, projects are being conducted, commerce is returning to the streets, and the people have the trust and confidence of its local and provincial government. The people of Ninevah deserve much more than living a life of oppression and poverty; and they look to your leadership as a beacon of hope."

"I want to welcome Col. Mike Bills and the great Soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. The Soldiers of 3d ACR are no strangers to Ninevah Province, having served the great people of Tal 'Afar during their darkest moments," he added.

"Finally, although the Soldiers of Long Knife are headed back to Texas, we leave something special and near and dear to our hearts with the Iraqi people. It is the blood on the streets throughout this province of the 33 Long Knife Soldiers that have made the ultimate sacrifice. Every one of these phenomenal warriors volunteered to fight for what is right, and they will remain in our hearts forever," concluded Twitty.

Colonel Michael Bills, commander of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, praised the outgoing Long Knife Soldiers and expressed his desire to continue moving forward, building on the momentum in place.

"It is truly an honor and a privilege to find myself transitioning with a true friend, Col. Stephen Twitty, the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Their courage, professionalism and unwavering dedication to partnering with Iraqi Security Forces and providing security for the province have been exceptional. Their expertise has allowed for a smooth relief in place and transfer of authority process that has allowed us, the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, to assume our role here today."

"There is still much work to be done, but through our continued partnership with the Iraq Security Forces, Provincial leadership and the citizens of Ninevah Province; we look forward to the future," added Bills.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16