BASRA, Iraq -- United States Division-South handed over several locations to the government of Iraq recently as the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters continues the drawdown of U.S. forces in southern Iraq.
Since taking command of USD-S, the 1st Infantry Division has managed the turnover or closure of 10 bases. As the reduction of forces continues, 22 bases across southern Iraq will have been closed between Feb. 2, and Sept. 1, bringing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 50,000 and lowering the number of bases in the south to 33.
U.S. forces have closed or returned 79 bases in southern Iraq since January 2008.
Most recently, USD-S closed Convoy Support Center Scania on July 15. The base was signed over to Mr. Samir al-Haddad, receivership secretariat for the government of Iraq, from Lt. Col. Lisa Schieferstein, 389th Combat Service Support battalion commander and outgoing commander of CSC Scania.
Mr. Haddad then signed the facility over to Col. Alla'a, commander of the 1st Battalion, 31st Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division.
CSC Scania is the second largest military facility in Babil Province and once housed approximately 1,300 U.S. servicemembers and contractors. Scania was a major refueling point for convoys traveling north and south in Iraq.
Also of recent note was the partial return of Camp Bucca, July 4, as part of the drawdown of forces in Basra Province.
Mr. Haddad, also a representative of the prime minister's chief of staff, was again on-hand to sign for the closing of Safwan Hill and partial return of Camp Bucca.
Camp Bucca once served as a Theater Internment Facility. The old location of the Bucca detention center will possibly be used to house an Iraqi Marines element. The TIF at Camp Bucca has not held prisoners since October 2009. That area of the base will now be available for economic development.
As part of partnered base returns, portions of Bucca remain under U.S. forces control. The base will return to complete Iraqi control as early as December 2010.
A ceremony was held at Camp Bucca on July 11 where local sheiks, government of Iraq officials, and Iraqi military leaders gathered with local media to commemorate the Iraqi government taking over the southern part of the base.
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Daniel Lund welcomed Mr. Nabell al-Ameer, advisor for the Governor of Basra Province, as both briefed the local media and spoke of the economic development possibilities the facility will be available to house. Mr. Majed Taiap Mezeb, manager of the port at Umm Qasr, was also on hand and addressed the media on the importance of the base turnover and future port operations.
The special event ended with U.S. Marines and Iraqi Marines conducting a flag ceremony commemorating the transfer.