COB BASRA, Iraq - The 34th Infantry Division, of Rosemount, Minn., transferred authority over United States Division-South to the incoming 1st Inf. Div., from Fort Riley, Kan., during a ceremony at Contingency Operating Base Basra, Feb. 2.
Ten months prior, the 34th Inf. Div., lead by Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, took control of the nine provinces that make up USD-S - encompassing the, the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, the port cities of Basrah and Umm Qasr, and the ruins of ancient Babylon.
First Infantry Division, also known as "Big Red One" because of their distinctive patch, is lead by Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks.
Many distinguished guests were in attendance, including Gen. Raymond Odierno, United States Forces-Iraq commander, and various Iraqi leaders and governmental officials.
Religious leaders also attended the event, including Chaldean Catholic acting-Bishop of Basrah, Imad Aziz al-Banna,
During the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, United States Forces-Iraq deputy commanding general for operations, brought up the Minnesota Vikings football team's recent season.
"But that's not the only winning team from Minnesota," he said.
Nash also recounted the many accomplishments of the 34th Inf. Div. -known as the "Red Bulls" - and the Iraqi forces with whom they worked.
Nash thanked the Department of Border Enforcement, saying he was impressed with "how you embraced joint operations to secure previously porous border regions".
"Inland waterways, once a reliable route for smugglers, criminals and terrorists," he said, "have been superbly controlled by Coast Border Guard patrols."
He also remarked on the role of the Iraqi Police in disposing of explosive ordinance and responding to improvised explosive devices as well as "advancing the rule of law".
Nash said he observed the Iraqi Police expanding their responsibilities by taking over checkpoints from the Iraqi Army.
"The IP across southern Iraq have done an outstanding job," he said.
Lastly, Nash praised the Iraqi Army's 8th, 10th, and 14th Div.'s for working well with "interagency operations" with the Iraqi Air Force and their "unit readiness, tactical proficiency and logistical improvements."
Afterward, Brooks gave his own remarks.
"It's an honor for the 1st Infantry Division to return to Iraq to serve again," Brooks said.
Almost straight out of the gate, the 1st will facilitate the national elections and the upcoming seating of the Council of Representatives, which Brooks said are "positive indications of a sovereign country on the path to democratic success".
"Our motto," he said, "is, 'No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great. Duty First!'"