By Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 2 AAB, 1st Inf. Div. October 26, 2011
BAGHDAD--Formally closing out its role advising and assisting two Iraqi Security Forces area commands and seven ISF divisions, the 2nd "Dagger" Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division - Center cased their unit colors Oct. 25 at a ceremony at Camp Liberty, Iraq.
The casing of the colors is an Army tradition that symbolizes the movement of the division to a new theater of operation, and the Dagger Brigade will shortly be redeploying to its home station of Fort Riley, Kan. The brigade has spent the past year working with its Iraqi counterparts in Baghdad Province to enable them through advise, train and assist missions, to fight violent extremist networks and to better provide security and stability to their nation.
"It's a simple but important ceremony," said Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux, commander of USD-C and the 25th Infantry Division, in his remarks. "The Dagger Brigade deserves a moment from each of us to stand and reflect on their contributions and their sacrifices."
Champoux lauded the brigade's efforts in such a vital part of Iraq, its capital and largest city, where many of the nation's ethnic and religious differences are most acute.
" In the course of 12 months they served with distinction as the only brigade operating in the Baghdad Province, a province that at one time had fully eight brigade combat teams," he said. "Baghdad Province is Iraq's center of gravity and holds more than eight million people and nearly half of Iraq's security forces operate here."
For his part, Col. Paul Calvert, commander of the Dagger Brigade and an Athens, Ga., native, said his unit had been exceptionally fortunate with the support it received from both within and without its ranks, which enabled it to accomplish its difficult mission.
"We're blessed because we have the love and support of our families and friends back home, they have strengthened and sustained us with their love and prayers, enabled our mission by caring for one another so we can focus on the task at hand," he said. "They have served as a source of encouragement for us to fulfill our duties and responsibilities."
Several generals and other dignitaries with the Iraqi Security Forces units which had been partnered with the Dagger Brigade were in attendance at the ceremony, and Calvert said that he and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Lewis, command sergeant major of the Dagger Brigade and a Lynchburg, Ohio, native, had been honored to work with such patriots.
Champoux said the Soldiers and leaders of the brigade made an impact that will last long into the future, both on his own memory and in the capabilities of the ISF.
"We have witnessed how you answered the call to duty," he said to Calvert and the Dagger Brigade's Soldiers. "We watched what you accomplished. Iraq is better for it, and we are better for your example. You did make a contribution--substantial and lasting, and you have our lasting respect and our deepest admiration."