News: Black Lions return final base to Iraqi government
Story by Spc. Shantelle Campbell
AD DUJAYL, Iraq – Since deploying to the Salah ad-Din province, last fall, one of the biggest and most important missions for Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., is returning military bases in the province to the Iraqi government.
Maj. Daniel Gates, the executive officer for 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, signed over Forward Operating Base Atruz to Samir Al-Hadad, the receivership secretariat for the Government of Iraq during a signing ceremony, May 2.
As a veteran of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Capt. Sean Rufolo of Mokena, Ill., the commander of Company B, 1-28 Inf., said that getting to this point in Iraq shows the progress that has been made in the country and he looks forward to continuing the relationship with his Iraqi counterparts.
"When the [Iraqi soldiers] came on base today to take over our guard towers they were all wearing their helmets, [protective vests] – they were all wearing their full kit with magazines and possibly some first-aid pouches. They were ready," said Rufolo. "Every time we go out and we do operations with [them], they take the lead. It's a far step from what I have seen when I was in Afghanistan or from when this unit was here during the surge where we were the [main effort]. But now, they are in the lead. It's a sign of progress, and it's nice to see."
This is the sixth and final base for the 'Black Lions' battalion to return to the Government of Iraq.
"My [Soldiers] did a great job with closing this base," concluded Rufolo.