The 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB), Task Force Palmetto, cased their colors June 20, marking the ceremonial completion of their mission in Iraq during a Transfer of Authority (TOA) to 50th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary).

The ceremony took place at Al Faw Palace on Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, Iraq.

Since their arrival in Southwest Asia in September, 2010, the 151st ESB has operated, maintained and protected Theater Operational Base Communications Systems, providing exceptional tactical communications support for U.S. Army Central Command missions across the region.

Commander Col. Maria B. Barrett, 160th Signal Brigade, lauded the 151st ESB for their achievements during the unit’s 10-month deployment. “History will record that the 151st left Iraq with an unprecedented reputation for customer service and mission accomplishment,” she said. “The missions accomplished were complex and technically challenging, yet they quantifiably improved reliability, responsiveness and security across the spectrum of all the services they provided.”

Lt. Col. Richard A. Wholey, Jr., 151st ESB Commander, said it was surreal to hand over the “largest, most complex operational base communication network ever to support the active war zone.”

“It seems like only yesterday we uncased our colors and assumed responsibility of this extraordinary mission,” Wholey told his Soldiers. “You deployed across 20 locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain as true professionals. We were the first, and now the last, Reserve Component ESB to deploy to Iraq.”

The 50th Signal Battalion (Expeditionary), Task Force Twin Lions, takes over stewardship of the vast communications network during a time of uncertainty, as the U.S. transitions toward the responsible drawdown of forces in Iraq.

“We understand the nature of the TOA ceremony,” said Lt. Col. Kathy Fox, battalion commander of the 50th. “The very acronym ‘Transfer of Authority’ means that the job is not yet done. It is no mystery that the next many days, weeks and months will present a host of challenges, as well as opportunities.”

“We look forward to advancing the partnership with our Iraqi friends, we look forward to being a part of such a professional and innovative team of communicators, and we look forward to a New Dawn,” Fox said.

The 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion colors will be uncased once again when Soldiers of the National Guard unit return to their home state of South Carolina.