FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq (June 30, 2009) -- The fifth and final security station in Wasit Provice, southeast of Baghdad, was returned to Iraqi control Monday before the June 30 deadline for U.S. Soldiers to withdraw from major Iraqi cities.
A battery from the 172nd Brigade Combat Team handed control of Combat Outpost Summers, near Suwayrah, along the Tigris River, over to the 32nd Iraqi Army Brigade.
"Tomorrow you should be standing very tall," Col. Dick Francey, 41st Fires Brigade commander and commander of U.S. troops in Wasit province, told the Iraqi Soldiers at the ceremony.
"Iraqi Security Forces are capable of protecting their people," Francey continued. "We stand by you as friends and realize you are in the lead."
"We have all worked together," said Brig. Gen. Abed Gabr Mazloum, 32nd IA Brigade commander. "Everyone is part of the safety and security of the area."
Capt. Bradford Brannon, commander of Service Battery, 1-77th Field Artillery and Sameer Al-Haddad, receivership secretariat and a representative of the prime minister, signed the papers making the handover of COP Summers official.
In compliance with the June 30 deadline, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment Soldiers moved to Forward Operating Base Delta after the ceremony. The battalion will take authority of the FOB and U.S. troops in Wasit when the 41st Fire Brigade redeploys to Fort Hood, Texas, in early August.
The 1-77th FA troops have lived and worked with their Iraqi partners on COP Summers since January 2009.
Although the U.S. Soldiers will no longer live among their Iraqi partners, both leaders assured that security in the area will continue.
"I promise you and I promise your people to work for security in the area," said Mazloum.
"I am very proud of you," Francey told the troops.