KIRKUK, Iraq (Army News Service, Sept. 1, 2006) - Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, transferred security responsibility for the majority of the Kirkuk province to two battalions of the Iraqi army during a ceremony at an Iraqi military compound just outside of Kirkuk yesterday.

"With this ceremony, we complete the transfer of security responsibilities from our friends, the coalition forces, to our brigade," said Maj. Gen. Anwar, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division.

The event places the majority of the province under Iraqi control, and marks the third time this year that coalition forces have transferred responsibility to Iraqi security forces in the 1st BCT's area of operations in and around Kirkuk.

"The 1st Brigade Task Force under your command brought our brigade to a high degree of training that allowed us to execute duties at the brigade level," Anwar said. "We worked as a team with the same goals to achieve security and neutralize terrorism."

Recently, coalition forces and soldiers from the 2nd Brigade's 1st Battalion and 18th Strategic Infrastructure Battalion participated in Operations Brave Sword and Gaugamela. The joint effort resulted in the capture of more than 150 terrorists.

"These fighting men have taken the battle to the enemy, and the enemy is shaken," said Col. David R. Gray, 1st BCT commander.

In the past year, the Iraqi army conducted four brigade-level operations in and around the city of Kirkuk in addition to countless smaller operations and daily patrols.

"Today's ceremony is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of each and every one of our Iraqi brothers in arms," Gray added. "It is a sign to the world that Iraq is a sovereign country, a country whose people have shed the shackles of tyranny and have embraced freedom and democracy, and a country with soldiers ready, willing and able to protect their fellow citizens," he said.

The city of Kirkuk and the village of Hawijah remain under the control of coalition forces.