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    Paratroopers relieve Marine RCTs in official Al Anbar handover

    Marines Hand-over Responsibility at Camp Ramadi

    Photo By Sgt. Mike MacLeod | Col. Mark Stammer, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division...... read more read more

    CAMP RAMADI, Iraq —Iraq —Marines officially handed over their security mission in Al Anbar province in a ceremony Saturday to a brigade of U.S. Army paratroopers, after a nearly six-year presence in the region.

    Marine Regimental Combat Teams 6 and 8 of Multi-National Force — West were replaced by 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist Brigade), an Army unit specially tooled to provide security-force assistance to Iraqi security forces, said Maj. Adrienne McDonald, a spokesperson for the brigade.

    Many local and provincial dignitaries attended the event, including a number of paramount sheikhs, the provincial governor, the Ramadi mayor and several Iraqi army officials.

    Marine Maj. Gen. R. T. Tryon, commanding general of Multi-National Force — West, said in a speech that the transfer of authority to an AAB was evidence in itself of the progress in Al Anbar province.

    "These achievements are the results of what we have done together in partnership," said Tryon, enumerating nine months of accomplishments that included provincial elections, the forging of security relationships and district development strategies, and the development of substantial civil affairs projects.

    Iraqi police Maj. Gen. Tarik Yosef, Al Anbar provincial chief of police, agreed. "The Marines withdrawal and replacement with fewer troops is evidence of the improved security situation," he said.

    Col. Matthew Lopez, commander of RCT-6, and Col. John Love, commander of RCT-8, both paid tribute to area sheikhs who encouraged their tribesman to ally with ISF to end violence in the province.

    The sheikhs were also instrumental to the success of civil affairs projects such as the Karmah Security Initiative, a schools and potable water project that turned what was once considered the last bastion of Al Qaeda and insurgents in Al Anbar into what Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called "New Karmah," said Lopez.

    Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, a leader of the Iraq Awakening Council, said, "This authority transfer is surely to the advantage of the Iraqi people and Anbar province."

    The Marine commanders reminded those in attendance to remember all who died to bring security and stability to western Iraq.

    "We must never forget the Americans and Iraqis, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the opportunities that lie ahead," said Lopez. "It is the individual Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, jundi and shurta who shoulder the greatest burdens to garner our success."

    Incoming Army commander, Col. Mark Stammer, praised the partnerships forged between ISF, Anbari civil leaders and Marines.

    "The significant reduction in the number of U.S. forces in Al Anbar is directly attributable to successful partnerships," said Stammer.

    Stammer and his subordinate commanders have already assumed responsibility for the partnerships during a month-long transition with the Marine units, he said.

    The 3,500 paratroopers of the AAB who will eventually replace the Marines occupying the province since January have undergone intense training for the advise-and-assist mission, said Stammer.

    The brigade is centered on the elite 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, a unit of paratroopers that has seen extensive combat action in World War II up to the present. Since the Army modularized in 2006, it also gained a squadron of cavalry, a field artillery battalion, and two support battalions.

    The 504th's general mission is to stand ready to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours of notification, said Stammer.

    Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr., commander of Multi-National Corps — Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of Multi-National Security Command — Iraq, both in attendance at the ceremony, were prior battalion commanders in the 504th PIR, said Tryon.

    The AAB's deployment is expected to last one year, said Stammer.



    Date Taken: 10.01.2009
    Date Posted: 10.01.2009 09:28
    Story ID: 39537
    Location: RAMADI, IQ 

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