Another closing chapter is written in the history of U.S. Military operations with the transition of
October 19, 2011
Camp Fallujah and the city it takes its name from share an important place in the history of U.S. Military operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and now Operation New Dawn. What was once a hotbed of extremist violence, murder, and daily bombings, is now a site of relative calm, a radical change over the last eight years.
As U.S. Forces withdraw from Iraq, in the twilight of military operations, the final chapter of Camp Fallujah has been written as the camp was handed over to the Iraqi Army and the Government of Iraq on Oct. 12.
In Sept. of 2003, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division created Forward Operating Base St. Mere on the outskirts of the city of Fallujah. But, in March 2004, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force took control from 3rd BCT and renamed the FOB, Camp Fallujah in order to better associate the camp with the local Iraqi city.
Camp Fallujah was the base of operations for two major military efforts: Vigilant Resolve, in April, and Phantom Fury, Nov.-Dec. 2004. Both operations were major assaults against insurgents and were conducted to remove violent extremist threats in the area.
In 2006, Fallujah, Ramadi, and the remainder of the al-Anbar Province was the birthplace of the "Awakening," which was a concerted effort between local tribal leaders and Coalition forces to remove the influence of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda.
Through these operations and support of the Awakening Council, the major cities of Fallujah and Ramadi became the example of effective counter-insurgency operations in Iraq.
In 2006, security operations for Fallujah were handed over to the 1st Iraqi Army Division and the Iraqi Police. As U.S. Forces began to take on an advise, train, and assist mission, portions of Camp Fallujah were given back the Government of Iraq.
Now, eight years after it's opening Camp Fallujah has been turned over to the 1st Iraqi Army Division and the Government of Iraq. "The transition of Camp Fallujah to the 1st IA is a testament to how far the Iraqi Army has come over these past years. The 1st IA leadership had a well thought out plan and were prepared to execute the transition of the camp and its facilities," stated Lt. Col. Charles Masaracchia, commander of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, who were the last U.S. Forces to operate out of Camp Fallujah.
Masaracchia went on to say, "This is a historic event, not only for this organization but also for the Iraqi Security Forces as they continue to take more responsibility in securing themselves and the population."
As U.S. Forces withdraw from Iraq in accordance with the Security Agreement between the Governments of Iraq and the U.S., the ISF has taken full control of Camp Fallujah and security operations in the surrounding area. "Our ability to hand this base over to a competent, professional force, highlights the gains that we've made through the years here in Iraq," said Col. Tim McAteer, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. "The smooth handover of Camp Fallujah, near the end of our military operations in Anbar, has honored the many brave American and Iraqi Soldiers who fought to rid the province of terrorists."