FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq - After 15 months of combat, the Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad are leaving Iraq with a sense of accomplishment.

"Today I leave with a great sense of pride and satisfaction. The enemy no longer controls the terrain, and I see hope in the eyes of the Iraqi people," said Col. John Hort, commander of the 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div, during a transition ceremony Feb. 14 at Forward Operating Base Loyalty.

During their tenure in Iraq, Soldiers of the "Striker" brigade saw major fighting in Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, during March and April 2008.

Hort credited the Iraqi Security Forces and praised its commanders for leading the way in quelling the violence in the region.

With the brigade's departure, the Paratroopers of 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Div., assume joint responsibility of Baghdad, east of the Tigris River. "Panther" brigade Soldiers have partnered with Iraqi Security Forces in Al Karradah, Rusafa and New Baghdad since early January 2009. The brigade will now work with the Iraqi Army soldiers of the 11th IA Div., in safeguarding Adhamiyah, Istaqlal Qada and Sadr City in the Iraqi capital.

During the ceremony, Col. Timothy McGuire, commander of the 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., credited the ISF, and the Striker brigade for their ability to turnaround the once violent region of Baghdad.

"The security gains in Iraq are impressive, nowhere more so than Sadr City and Adhamiyah," said McGuire. "The success of northeast Baghdad has been a catalyst for the security gains throughout the entire country. We know that is a result of the bravery and selfless sacrifice of these Iraqi and American patriots."

McGuire said he was eager to work with ISF in the expanded area of operations, and continue to build upon the early success achieved in Iraq this year.

"While great gains have been made, more work needs to be done," said the Alamo, Calif., native. "We are truly excited and honored to have the opportunity to forge a partnership with the great 11th IA Div."

"2009 has already become an historic year for the Iraqi people, and we look forward to building upon the success of the Provincial Elections and doing our part to ensure lasting peace and prosperity to the Iraqi people."