FOB KALSU, Iraq (Army News Service, Oct. 2, 2006) - Iraqi officials and Multi-National Division - Baghdad leaders transferred responsibility of Forward Operating Base Duke to Iraqi security forces during a press conference Oct. 1.

Col. John Tully, commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, officially signed documents to sign the FOB to the Ministry of Interior, which was represented by Maj. Gen. Hussein Aooyiz Al Ghazali, commander, 5th Department of Border Enforcement, and Asaad Sultan Abu Gelal, the Najaf governor.

The transfer of the FOB follows an Iraqi in the Lead Ceremony during the past week in which Iraqi security forces assumed operational control for the northern Babil province and security of the cities of Al Iskandariyah, Haswah and Al Khudi from 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT.

The FOB and operational area transitions are part of a plan to eventually turn over all southern provinces to the Iraqi government and military control as the ISF continues to grow into a viable force, said Maj. Jeff Avolio, ISF liaison officer, 2nd BCT.

"The turn over of these FOBs and operational areas is a key indicator of ISF success," he said.

Before the press conference, Tully and Hussein signed a property release signifying the beginning of 5th DBE's ownership and assumption of responsibility for the security of the FOB, as well as the border security of areas that extend from the Iraq-Saudi Arabian border, to the southern portion of the An-Anbar province, and through the Najaf and Al Muthanna provinces, ending at the Iraq and Kuwait border.

The FOB transfer mark significant steps toward normalcy and the transition to full Iraqi control, especially with the large area the 5th DBE is responsible for, said Tully.

"This is a significant step in the ISF stepping up to the lead in the Najaf province," he said. "The turnover of FOB Duke to the border patrol shows the ISF is strong and able to handle the security of Najaf. The Najaf province continues to be an example for the rest of Iraq because of its leaders, like Governor Assad and Gen Hussein."

Coalition forces will not have a permanent presence in the province, but will continue to help train and equip the ISF on a weekly basis so it can continue growing stronger, Tully concluded.