CAMP ECHO, Iraq – The 8th Iraqi Army Division received responsibility for Combat Outpost 4 from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Warhorse Brigade during a transfer of authority ceremony at the outpost, March 3.
The ceremony marked the 8th IA Div.'s increasing ability to maintain security in the Diwaniya province without coalition assistance, as shown recently during safe and successful provincial elections, Jan. 31.
"The transition of Combat Outpost 4 is a very important event to Iraqis, showing that America and Iraq are following the terms of the Security Agreement, which was signed on Jan. 1," said Lt. Gen. Ali Salih Farhood Oothman, 8th IA Div. commander.
The combat outpost is very crucial to maintaining security and ensuring the insurgency, which destabilized the area in the past, is kept from doing the same again, continued Oothman.
"The 8th Division personnel are very proud and happy to receive this site and consider it as a great achievement," said Oothman. "Our priority is to continue to improve the safety of the city as we move further into the reconstruction phase."
Oothman praised the efforts of U.S. and coalition forces "to help stabilize the area and train the Iraqi army."
"Coalition forces have worked closely with the Iraqi army. We have seen a dramatic improvement in the skill, effectiveness and professionalism of this unit. The people of this great province and country should be proud of the Iraqi army and the fine Soldiers it has produced," said Lt. Col. Doug Cardinale, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment commander. Cardinale's battalion operated out of COP 4, working with the ISF since September.
"I am confident that the 8th Iraqi Army Division, under the guidance of Lt. Gen. Oothman, can use this combat outpost as another effective tool in keeping Diwaniya as one of the safest provinces in all of Iraq." continued Cardinale. "You cannot build a strong country without ensuring it has a strong army. Iraq is building for the future and its proud Army is leading the way."
Transitions from CF to Iraqi control have been occurring throughout Iraq and will continue because Iraqi security forces are taking the lead in securing Iraq, said Cardinale.
"The 8th Iraqi Army has been operating independently for more than three years and was the first to provide a safe and secure environment to the Iraqi people," said Col. Butch Kievenaar, 2nd BCT commander. "It's been our privilege to partner with you and to continue to help in that development as you continue to move forward in securing Iraq."
"When Soldiers perform in battle together, they are bonded by something more than blood. And this brigade, with the 8th Iraqi Army – not only during this rotation but on previous rotations – have served together and formed a brotherhood. Rest assured, our brotherhood will remain strong and we will continue to always be there to support. While I don't think you will need it, we will always answer the call if you require us to be there," continued Kievenaar.
"This is not an end; this is a continuation of our mission and a continuation of our partnership, as we continue to move forward in securing Iraq," said Kievenaar. He expressed his confidence in the ISF to continue providing security for the Iraqi people, helping to lead them towards a brighter future.
Kievenaar concluded, "I believe you will see a lot of ceremonies like this turning over locations as [Iraqi] security forces continue to expand and take further control of the security situation across all of Iraq."
This work, 8th Iraqi Army Division assumes responsibility of Combat Outpost 4, by SGT Rodney Foliente, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.