By Sgt. DaleAnne Maxwell, MND-B PAOFebruary 10, 2009
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - As a hard wind blew through Baghdad, the 1st Cavalry Division took over responsibility for the Multi-National Division-Baghdad operational environment from the 4th Infantry Div. during a transfer of authority ceremony Feb. 10.
The ceremony honored the multitude of accomplishments, successes and sacrifices of the "Ironhorse" Division during their past 15 months in Baghdad and looked forward to the continuation of progress by "America's First Team".
This is the third time both of these Fort Hood, Texas-based units have transferred control of MND-B to one another and the first TOA between two major commands since the signing of the Security Agreement Jan. 31.
Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commanding general, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, presided over the ceremony, saying this past year has truly been historic. The security has greatly improved thanks to incredible efforts of the 4th Inf. Div. under the superb leadership of Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond. Over the past 12 months, citizens of Baghdad and the surrounding area have seen an 80 percent decrease in attacks against local civilians, with Iraqi Security Forces becoming more capable of maintaining law and order.
"When the 4th Inf. Div. first arrived here in Dec. of 2007, Baghdad was at the tail end of the troop surge. There were roughly 100 attacks a week in the city, which was down from more than 400 per week just a few months earlier. Three months later the Iraqi Security Forces marched into Basra to engage special group criminals and other Shia extremists. When that happened, Sadr City erupted pushing attacks in Baghdad back up to 400 a week."
Concerned that the fragile security won during the troop surge was at risk of coming apart, Soldiers of the 4th Inf. Div. partnered with Iraqi Army and National Police, engaged insurgents and militias on the streets of Sadr City.
"Attacks are at a minimum, reconstruction is taking place and essential services continue to improve. It is undeniable that the 4th Inf. Div. averted chaos in Sadr City. It was one of the most complex, tactical operational and strategic fights in the history of OIF," said Austin.
The relentless pursuit of the enemy resulted in the seizure of more than 2300 weapons caches and the capture of more than 3000 enemy leaders, facilitators and operators, said Austin. Markets, shops and schools opened; extensive projects started to clean and restore canals and pump stations necessary for irrigating farmlands and micro-grant programs created over 7,000 Iraqi jobs.
"This is a day to give thanks to the people of Iraq," said Hammond. "Baghdad is better today than yesterday. We are thankful for your patriotism. As a result, we have a great partnership. We share the same goals-protect the people, improve conditions and create opportunities."
Hammond then thanked the Iraqi Army Soldiers and the ISF for their accomplishments and improvements that have brought them to the forefront in the security of Iraq. Since taking command of MND-B in Dec. 2007, the 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers witnessed a doubling of their operational area and a reduction of Coalition combat power from 44 combat battalions to 21.
"I ask you to partner with the 1st Cav. They will remain strong. They are well-led by Maj. Gen. Dan Bolger.," Hammond said.
Maj. Gen. Daniel Bolger, commanding general of 1st Cav. Div. uncased his division's colors with Command Sgt. Major Rory Malloy, senior enlisted leader of 1st Cav. Div., assumed command of MND-B and addressed the remaining "Ironhorse" crowd.
"Today we salute Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia and the fighting Soldiers of the great 4th Infantry Division," said Bolger. "You are our teammates at Fort Hood and in this war. Our two divisions stand together as you have taught us to be "steadfast and loyal"...like the partnership between our Soldiers and the soldiers and police of Iraq."
"Like the color guard we and our Iraqi brothers stand shoulder to shoulder against the winds and the threats of today," said Bolger. "It's all about teamwork-First Team, Team First."