By Sgt. Jason Thompson, 4th Inf. Div. PAODecember 19, 2007
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - Under the clear, morning skies of a promising new day in Baghdad, the 4th Infantry Division took the reins of Multi-National Division -- Baghdad from the 1st Cavalry Division during a transfer of authority ceremony here Dec. 19.
The ceremony honored the hard work and sacrifices of the departing 'First Team,' and looked forward to future challenges and successes soon to be earned by the 'Ivy Division.'
Presiding over the ceremony was Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general, Multi-National Corps -- Iraq.
Odierno said that the battle in Iraq changed significantly during the last year and the success could be directly linked to the 1st Cav. Div.'s efforts in and around Baghdad.
"Significant events are often a result of the right people being in the right place at the right time," said Odierno. "In the case of Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, the right people were the magnificent men and women of Multi-National Division - Baghdad and their dedicated Iraqi Security Force partners."
Odierno said all Soldiers of the First Team should be proud of what they accomplished during their tenure in Baghdad. He said the Soldiers had a direct positive impact on the Iraqi people's day-to-day lives, which is apparent by the increased activity in all the Baghdad market places, traffic on the streets, numerous soccer games played in all the local neighborhoods, and the smiles on the children's faces.
"The biggest success was the complete, full partnership they formed with their counterparts in the Iraqi Army, National Police, station police, patrol police and local leaders," continued Odierno. "Because of their shared concern, genuine care and daily engagement, they earned the trust and confidence of Baghdad's people. In turn, it sparked a grassroots movement among the millions of residents and empowered them to feel in control of their own destiny."
The 1st Cav. Div. commander then addressed the audience of Iraqi and Coalition leaders, looking back on a year's worth of successes and sacrifices by his MND-B forces.
"Although the cost has been high, and the toll on the lives on our Soldiers has been great, our cause was just and noble, and we have prevailed," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, Jr., as he somberly addressed the crowd. "We have fought together, side by side, and have won every time. Our Soldiers know it, and the enemy knows it. There is not a place in Baghdad where the enemy feels free or a place to call his home."
Fil then thanked the Iraqi Army soldiers that the success of the First Team came with a partnership between the Iraqi and Coalition Forces.
"We have done this in partnership. Whatever progress we have made, whatever success we have secured, is a testimony to that partnership and the result of our combined strengths."
With the colors of his division cased and ready to accompany him home, Fil's thoughts were focused on the efforts of his Soldiers and on the continued success of the 4th Inf. Div.
"As with always at the end of a challenging tour, we leave with mixed emotions. It is quite reassuring to know that we are handing the battle over to such a capable division, and that's the Steadfast and Loyal 4th Inf. Div. led by the supreme command team of Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond and Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia.
"I'm leaving totally confident that you'll be able to quickly build and expand upon the efforts and that the Ironhorse Soldiers are ready for the tests that lie ahead."
With the clear, crisp notes of the 4th Inf. Div. Ironhorse Band accompanying the ceremony, Fil passed on the mantle of MND-B with pride for his Soldiers and optimism for his successors.
Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div., uncased his colors and assumed command of the MND-B mission as the division colors changed position in the honor guard procession.
"As we, the 4th Inf. Div., return to Baghdad for our third deployment, we truly feel we have two homes. One in Fort Hood, Texas, and our other is clearly here in Baghdad. We look forward to once again serving with our Iraqi brothers.
With obvious pride in the troops of his new command, Hammond closed by thanking the 1st Cav. Div. for their great efforts in providing a smooth transition with the 4th Inf. Div. and took a moment to recognize all the forces that make up MND-B.
"To Maj. Gen. Fil and the 1st Cav. Div., magnificent job. Your Steadfast and Loyal efforts have improved security across Baghdad, but more important, I see hope for the future. We must build on this and continue progress. We still face determined enemies who threaten peace and security. There is still much work ahead. Our job, alongside our Iraqi counterparts, is to provide stable security and set conditions for improving life in Baghdad.
"This, we will do as a team.
"It is my honor to represent the men and women of Multi-National Division - Baghdad. Steadfast and Loyal."