A group of leading Iraqi religious, civilian and military leaders met with the incoming and outgoing commanders of United States Division - South on Contingency Operating Base Basra, Jan. 28th.
The event allowed the Basrah Province leaders a chance to thank Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, 34th Infantry Division commander, for the work done and the relationships built during the past 10 months, and to meet Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, 1st Inf. Div. commander and incoming USD-S commander.
The event was informal and provided time for talking, enjoying chai tea, and partaking in a traditional meal. The point was to ensure that the various strong relationships built with local leaders during the 34th's tour continue under the 1st's watch.
"We in the 1st Infantry Division are honored to be able to come to Basrah and become partners with each of the guests and organizations represented today," said Brooks.
"This division is committed to the continuing partnership that was established by the 34th Division," he added. "We all have great respect for what the Red Bulls have done during their time here, and we wish them all the best as they go into the future."
Nash welcomed Brooks and guaranteed the guests that they are in great hands with 1st Inf. Div. and that things would only improve under their guidance.
"The last 10 months have brought positive progress to southern Iraq," Nash said. "The advances in civil capacity and economic improvement are solid, coupled with the tremendous work of the Iraqi Security Forces."
"I am confident that the future of Iraq is bright," Nash added. "I will return in the future to see a land of peace and prosperity."
Iraqi military representatives included Maj. Gen. Muhammad Jawad Hawaydi, Basra Operations Center commander, Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Noor Swady al Dalmy, 14th Iraqi Army Div. commander, and Brig. Gen. Sami Saeed, Iraqi Air Force 70th Squadron commander.
From the religious community, Imam Sayid Abdul al-Moosawi, cleric for the al-Moosawi mosque in Basrah, and acting-Bishop of Basrah, Imad Aziz al-Banna were in attendance
A representative of Basrah Governor Sheltag Aboud al-Mayah, and Mike Sunshine of the Basrah Provincial Reconstruction Team were also present.
Nash exchanged gifts with the attendees, giving out replica "Red Bulls" made of brass.
After giving a gift to Nash, Hawaydi wished success for Brooks and their common goal of serving the people of Basrah and southern Iraq.
He then told Nash and the Red Bull Soldiers through an interpreter, "Stand tall and be proud for what you provided for the people of Basrah. We will always remember you as a brother, as a friend, and as a partner."