BAGHDAD – U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. assumed command of the NATO Training Mission –Iraq from U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter in a change of command ceremony at Forward Operating Base Union III, Oct. 1.
The ceremony also marked a transfer of authority for the Deputy Commanding General - Advising and Training and the official activation of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.
The OSC-I will continue the security assistance and cooperation responsibilities with Iraq to assist the Government of Iraq with advising, training, assisting and equipping their security forces.
“We welcome a significant milestone in our Iraq campaign by activating the OSC-I,” said U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander, United States Forces - Iraq and reviewing officer of the ceremony.
“As we continue to honor the security agreement by drawing down our security forces, OSC-I will become the core of our enduring military-to-military relationship with Iraq over the years to come,” he added.
“Today’s establishment of the Office of Security Cooperation –Iraq and the transfer of the NATO Training Mission marks a significant transition and the progress of our mission in Iraq as well as the commitment of the United States and the NATO partner countries for a strategic and enduring relationship with the government of Iraq and its people,” said Caslen.
During the symbolic and time-honored tradition of the passing of colors to represent the transfer of responsibility of the mission, Ferriter handed the NTM-I colors to Austin, passing over his command of NTM-I and his duty as the DCG (A&T).
Austin presented the colors to Caslen, the new NTM-I commander.
Caslen then returned the NTM-I colors to acting NTM-I Senior Enlisted Advisor, Sgt. Maj. Emanuele Salvagnin, to return to the color bearer, completing the symbolic change of command.
After the passing of the NTM-I colors, Austin spoke highly of Caslen and addressed the challenges ahead.
“Lieutenant General Caslen’s proven talents as a leader, trainer and educator make him extremely well suited for this important assignment,” said Austin.
“The task ahead will be challenging but I know that you are more than capable,” said Austin to Caslen. “I cannot think of a better person to lead this organization into the next phase of our military leadership with Iraq.”
“You are the right person at the right place, at the right time,” he added.
Caslen, takes command with multiple responsibilities as the commander of the NTM-I, USF-I deputy commanding general (advising and training) and the chief of OSC-I, to continue the training and advising mission as U.S. Forces – Iraq withdraws from Iraq by the end of this year in accordance with the security framework agreement signed in 2008 between the U.S. and Iraq governments.
“I am honored to serve as commander of the NATO Mission as we orchestrate training and professional military education for Iraq’s leaders and its security forces,” said Caslen.
As the ceremony drew to a close, Caslen highlighted the role of NTM-I and OSC-I and their importance to the development of Iraq and the Middle East.
“Iraq’s partnership with NATO is significant, this relationship not only provides Iraq with superb trainers and educators, but it also provides legitimacy among the 28 NATO nations in a unique status within the Middle East region as a partner in the international community of nations,” said Caslen.
“It is clear that a stable, secure and self-ran Iraq is not only important for Iraq, but for the entire region,” he said. “I recognize the importance of both NTM-I and OSC-I to assist Iraq in developing the necessary defense capabilities to secure this great nation.”
“To the people and leaders of Iraq, I am honored to serve alongside each of you in this incredibly important mission not only for the sake of Iraq but also for this region,” said Caslen. “We must succeed and we will succeed.”
The ceremony also marked the departure of Ferriter, who completed his third combat tour in Iraq, to include his first two tours as a Deputy Commanding General (Operations), Multi-National Corps - Iraq and the most recent one as the Deputy Commanding General (Advising & Training).
“It is indeed fortunate to have General Ferriter in our team for the past 10 months,” said Austin. "He is a seasoned Iraq campaign veteran whose inspired leadership has led to remarkable gains and capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces.”
During his ten-month tenure as the commander of NTM-I and DCG (A&T), Ferriter witnessed the Iraqi Security Forces make significant improvements to their military capabilities through training and more than $8B in Foreign Military Sales.
The most recent success is the Government of Iraq’s purchase of F-16 multi-role fighter aircrafts, along with the associated training, maintenance and sustainment packages, which represents a significant advancement for the Iraqi Air Force and the enduring relationship between the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
“Lieutenant General Ferriter and his team have flawlessly managed one of the most robust foreign military sales programs in the world,” said Austin. “From M1A1 tanks to patrol boats and transport aircrafts, they delivered the total package of instruction maintenance and support necessary for the Iraqi Security Forces.”
“The remarkable accomplishments of your team under your inspired leadership have strengthened relationships with our Iraqi, NATO, and U.S. Embassy partners and have set the conditions for our continued professionalization of the ISF,” said Austin.
Since the NATO Training Mission began in 2004 at the request of the Iraqi interim government, in accordance with UN resolution 1546; 23 NATO member countries and one partner country have contributed to the training effort of the Iraqi Security Forces, either inside or outside of Iraq, and through financial contributions or donations of equipment.
This work, Lt. Gen. Caslen assumes command of NTM-I, leads OSC-I to strengthen ISF, by SSG Edward Daileg, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.