JSS UMM SA'AH, Iraq (Feb. 9, 2010) -- U.S. and Iraqi leaders joined in the marshlands of southern Maysan Province Feb. 4 to celebrate the official grand opening of the Common Training Center on Joint Security Station Umm Sa'ah.

"Today is a truly historic day as we come here to commission a facility which brings together representatives of all of the Iraqi Security Forces to achieve a common purpose: secure the borders of the sovereign nation of Iraq," said Lt. Col. William Walski, commander of 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, from Chino Hills, Calif.

The event, observed by Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, deputy commanding general for operations, United States Division-South, is a significant milestone for leaders dedicated to improving the capacity of Iraqi security forces as they concentrate on developing advanced tactical capabilities for interdicting threats in the marshes of southern Maysan.

Members of the Navy Special Warfare group and Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement demonstrated newly acquired capabilities and a static display of river patrol equipment to guests. These personnel focus on counter-smuggling operations in the Huwayzah Marshes and Tigris River tributaries.

"The security established through the cooperation at this facility is critical to establishing the secure environment necessary in southern Maysan, as well as throughout all of Iraq, to strengthen a governmental system which continues to work to improve the conditions for all people living in Iraq," said Walski.

Readings from the Quran and the presentation of the Iraqi National Anthem set the tone for what was a patriotic day for both nations.

The commander of the DBE's 11th Brigade, Brig Gen. Razzak, offered his appreciation for the efforts to make the Joint Training Center a success.

"We would like to thank all of the people of Maysan for their support as we continue to progress," he said.

Razzak commands shurta (police) who patrol more than 200 kilometers of the Iran-Iraq border.

To conclude the ceremony, Walski and Razzak revealed the JSS Umm Sa'ah name plate before the crowd, offered congratulations and joined together to socialize around a traditional Iraqi meal.

With the sounds of celebration heard in the distance, the work never ceased for the Soldiers of B Troop, 2nd Sqdn., 13th Cav. Regt., who even as the ceremony commenced, continued daily operations in support of the mission.

According to their leadership, much of the credit for the event is due to the Soldiers who invested sweat equity in establishing the austere facility through some of the most adverse rain conditions seen in recent memory.

The ceremony was attended by Iraqi police and Army leaders from the Maysan province who have personnel assigned at a joint intelligence center at JSS Umm Sa'ah. The U.S. Army advisors will train Iraqis on counter-smuggling techniques, analyzing intelligence, and advanced soldiering skills.