By Spc. Dustin Roberts, 2nd HBCT PAO, 1st Inf. Div., MND-BMarch 4, 2009
BAGHDAD - As per a recently signed security agreement, Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces made another necessary step toward total Iraqi control in securing northwest Baghdad.
In a transfer ceremony, Soldiers from the 1st Combined Arms Battalion "Vanguard," 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, handed over the keys to Joint Security Station Shulla to the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division March 2 at the Shulla Neighborhood Advisor Council Hall.
The "Vanguard" Soldiers invited Iraqi and western media to witness the transfer ceremony, as well as walk the streets in order to highlight recent security and infrastructure improvements in Shulla.
During the visit, reporters from outlets such as al-Hurra Television, Agency French Press, Reuters, the Associated Press and the British Broadcasting Company, witnessed the transition of Joint Security Station Shulla and had lunch at a newly rebuilt chicken restaurant; destroyed by a vehicle-born explosive device in December 2008.
"The event was a testimony to the astonishing progress we see on a daily basis in northwest Baghdad," said Lt. Col. John Vermeesch, a native of Marshall, Mich., commander of the "Vanguard" battalion. "The security situation in Shulla has not been this good in a long time. Because of that, the citizens of Shulla are experiencing a better standard of living and infrastructure improvement that they have not seen in years."
During the walk the visitors saw kids waving Iraqi flags, busy sidewalks and flourishing shops.
"They were excited to see how secure the area is; it was very natural and normal," said Mona Joesif, an Arabic media coordinator for 2nd HBCT, from San Diego. "Women and children were walking around and everything seemed to be okay."
Joesif also said why it was important for the residents of Shulla to be informed of news in their neighborhood.
"For me, as an Iraqi person, it's important to know what's going on with the security agreement between Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Government," she said. "When it's time for the Americans to leave, it's important to know if the Iraq Security Forces will be standing on their feet."
Vermeesch said the transfer of JSS Shulla to the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division confirmed that the ISF are not only standing on their feet, but gaining confidence daily while taking the required steps toward permanent success.
"As part as our endeavor to support the ISF and in accordance with the security agreement between our two countries, we continue to turn the security of Iraq back over to the Iraqis," said Vermeesch. "The transition of JSS Shulla from American control to Iraqi control is just one more step in this process."
"This is an historic time for Shulla, for Baghdad and for all of Iraq. The "Vanguard" battalion is proud to be a part of Baghdad's future."