News: 'Black Lions' return Samarra hotel to Iraqi government
Story by Spc. Richard Colletta
SAMARRA, Iraq — Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., signed over Patrol Base Olsen to the Iraqi government, Jan. 21.
The patrol base was actually an old hotel called "Albohera" which means, hotel by the lake. The hotel boasts a scenic lake view and from its rooftop, the famous Al-Askari "Golden" Mosque can be seen in the distance.
Before turning over the former patrol base to the Iraqi government, "Black Lion" Soldiers completely demilitarized the hotel, removing barriers and restoring it closely to its previous condition.
Sameer Al-haddad, the Iraqi Receivership Secretariat, signed for the patrol base from U.S. forces during a short ceremony.
Lt. Col. Sami Gayath, the Iraqi army's Director of the Samarra Joint Coordination Center said that it was an important day and that the turnover of the hotel back to the Iraqi government was a good indication that Iraq Security Forces were capable of maintaining security in Iraq.
"We are very proud of our security and we hope to continue what we have accomplished here in cities and villages throughout Iraq," he said.
Maj. Daniel Gates, the battalion's executive officer, said the turn-over of the base was a good sign of security since his deployment to Iraq in 2005.
"Now, since we've been here most of our missions are joint with [Iraqi Security Forces] in a supporting role," said Gates. "They are the ones doing the majority of the missions. We're just [here] to support them."
This is the third of several U.S. bases that the "Dragon" brigade plans to turn over to the Government of Iraq as they begin to withdraw from Iraqi in accordance with the Security Agreement.