By Sgt. 1st Class Damian Steptore, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.May 18, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Approximately 500 attendees were on hand to see security of the well-preserved Ziggurat of Ur ceremoniously transferred back to the Iraqi security forces here, May 13.
Since 2003, security of the 5,000-year-old Ziggurat has mainly been under the control of Coalition forces. However, that changed during a ceremony as one of Iraq's most famous archeological sites was officially returned to Iraqi authorities.
"What you see here today has been set up by the Iraqi people," said Dr. Anna Prouse, the Dhi Qar Provincial Reconstruction Team leader. "We will still be here to help out and I hope the Ziggurat will be open to the children and the general public."
Prouse's PRT and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, assisted the Iraqi security forces and Mr. Hamdani, the Head of Antiquities in Nasiryah, to plan the event, which included various government officials and military leaders throughout central and southern Iraq.
"Every citizen needs to have access to this Ziggurat because education is not just in the class rooms," Prouse added. "Education can also happen here."
The transfer marks one of the final acts of partnership between the Iraqi security forces and the 4th Brigade Combat Team as the unit is set to return to Fort Hood, Texas in early June.
"I am extremely proud to personally witness this special event in honor of a site that is one of the oldest structures in the history of the world," said Col. Philip Battaglia, the 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. commander. "We will always look back on our time here as a very special moment in the history of this great nation."
The site is now officially controlled by the Dhi Qar Iraqi police and managed by the Ministry Of Tourism.