By Staff Sgt. Nancy LugoNovember 24, 2011
RAMADI, Iraq (Nov. 24, 2011) -- Two MI-17 Iraqi helicopters made their way over the city of Ramadi, and the Euphrates River to land at the helicopter-landing zone on Camp Ramadi. Staff Brig. Gen. Hussein Mostof, the senior military advisor to the Receivership Secretariat and his team from the Government of Iraq's Basing Committee had arrived to supervise the transition of Camp Ramadi from U.S. Forces to Iraqi Security Forces.
As they exited the aircraft, the group made its way to a small building where Brig. Gen. Hatim of the Habbaniya Location Command was waiting with Lt. Col. Steven Hart, the Reposture Assistance Team Officer In Charge with 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, going line by line over the list of equipment that would be left for the Iraqi Army when the camp was turned over after the completion of the paperwork.
"The reposture effort was a priority from day one of arriving in country," said Hart. "The bottom line is that transferring bases, facilities, infrastructure and equipment to the Iraqi Security Forces translated into increased capability for them and represents an investment by the American people in the enduring strategic relationship between our two countries."
Over the last week, Hatim and inspectors from his command conducted inventories on all equipment and buildings on the camp. He will be responsible for the custodianship and the security of the base.
Talking through an interpreter, Mostof thanked Hart, saying he had made the transition smooth so that the Government of Iraq can take over and make things better for Ramadi.
Within an hour of the signing over of Camp Ramadi, Iraqi Soldiers were poised to take over guard towers and security at the camp's entry points.
Due to the contributions of U.S. military service members and Iraqi Soldiers, policemen and civilians over the last eight years, Ramadi has transformed from a hotbed of terrorist violence into a city mostly free of terrorist attacks. The city has a place in history as previous being one of the toughest cities in Iraq, but had an "Awakening" in 2006 when coalition forces and tribal leaders came together to fight Al-Qaida.
Because of the continued efforts in Ramadi to recruit and train Iraqi Soldiers and Policemen, American military Troops can now leave the city in the capable hands of the Iraqi Security Forces.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Navarro, the acting first sergeant for B Battery, 2-319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment "Black Falcons," said his deployment in support of Operation New Dawn was a much better experience than his previous two deployments to Iraq, the first in 2003 as part of the initial invasion and again four years later during the Surge. The aluminum trailers Navarro and his Soldiers stayed in were better accommodations than his first two tours, and the security situation was much better.
Now, as they made final preparations to leave their current accommodations, there were more than 40 vehicles lined up waiting for the order to begin movement. They were the last of the almost 300 military vehicles to leave the camp. This would be the last movement out of Camp Ramadi for U.S. Forces.
The "Black Falcons" first destination of the two-day convoy was Contingency Operating Base Kalsu. Paratroopers cleaned out the vehicles of the day's debris, ensured they were ready for the next leg of the trip and talked about what they were going to do when they got home.
"I am going to cook my own food and spend time with my wife and daughter," said Sgt. Edwin Tyren, a 2-319th gunner.
After leaving Kalsu the next morning, the Troopers had a short stopover in Contingency Operating Base Adder to check their vehicles, stretch their legs and get something to eat. This would be their last meal in Iraq after more than six months. They had arrived earlier than expected, so they continued on to Kuwait that day.
After arriving at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, the 2-319th Paratroopers worked late into the night and early into the next morning, turning in ammunition and preparing the vehicles for turn-in later that day, and reflecting on what they accomplished.
"I am proud of what we have done here," Navarro said. "Completing the mission honors all who came before us."