Deployed Forces: 2-11th FA assists Iraqis, takes control of assets

| August 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

Pfc. Emily Walter-Small
103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The 17th Brigade of the Iraqi army hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Aug. 16, for the newly constructed IA compound, here, commemorating the first official step in the return of al Bakr Air Base to the government of Iraq control. 

Coordination for the ribbon-cutting ceremony was a combined effort between the Army, Air Force and IA, including the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. 

The 2-11th FA Regt., will continue to be involved with the 17th Inf. Bde., IA, as it continues to move onto JBB, here. The 2-11th FA Regt. also assisted the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing as it constructed the IA compound. 

The ceremony symbolized that U.S. forces embrace their partnership with the Iraqis, and that they will work to continue to build this relationship, said Maj. Mark Sherkey, executive officer, 2-11th FA Regt. It also symbolizes that the Iraqi security forces are capable of providing security for the government of Iraq and the Iraqi people, he added.

“We have the Air Force, Army, Department of State and the Iraqis all working together to establish a partnership,” Sherkey said. “We welcome that.”

More importantly, the event helps prove that the Iraqi security forces have the capacity to maintain a legitimate, stable government when the U.S. forces leave, said Ben Fluhart, team leader for Provincial Reconstruction Team, here.

Currently, JBB is one of the largest U.S. military bases in Iraq, and the base serves as the central logistical hub for forces in Iraq. It is also one of the busiest air bases in the world that is operated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The ribbon-cutting event celebrated the IA moving back onto JBB, marking the first step in what will eventually be a full base transfer from U.S. to Iraqi control by Dec. 31, 2011, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander, 332nd AEW.

“Today’s ceremony marks a truly historic moment,” Franklin said. “The Iraqi security forces have proven to the world to be capable of protecting the Iraqi people. (The ceremony) is a symbol of our enduring friendship.”

 “The Iraqi people are pleased to receive lands from the American Army,” said Iraqi army Lt. Gen. Rashid Flayah, commander, Samarra Operations Center. “We have proven to the people that we are against terrorism. This is a happy day for us and the security forces.”

The opening of the IA compound on JBB is part of a larger effort to empower the Iraqi people and represents an important step in establishing a stable, sovereign and self-reliant Iraq.

Approximately 400 bases have been closed or turned over to the government of Iraq since January 2008. While the post transfer of authority is only one facet in responsible drawdown of forces and equipment from Iraq, it is a significant milestone that helps prove that U.S. forces can expect to meet the current drawdown deadline.

“(The ceremony) is important because it is a significant indication of where we are in the entire drawdown process,” Fluhart said. “As a representative of the government, I am extremely pleased we’re seeing the Iraqi army move onto this base. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point.”

Category: Deployed Forces, News

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