CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, MOSUL, Iraq —The 130th Engineer Brigade uncased its colors, assuming responsibility of Mosul's reconstruction efforts from the 18th Eng. Bde. during a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Contingency Operating Station Marez, Wednesday.
The "Sapper" Brigade's mission focus will be reconstruction projects to aid the city of Mosul and Ninewah province in providing essential services to the local populations and to manage route clearance operations for the 25th Infantry Division.
"It is an honor and a privilege to help our brother and sister Iraqi's rebuild their nation," said Col. Fabian E. Mendoza, Jr., 130th Eng. Bde. commander.
The ceremony attendees included Maj. Gen Robert L. Caslen, Jr., commanding general, Multi-National Division-North, Brig. Gen. Robert Brown, the deputy commanding general (support), MND-N, Mr. Patrick Murphy, Ninewah Provincial Reconstruction Team leader and Col. Muhammed Jassim, a 3rd Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiment commander.
During its 15 month deployment, the 18th Eng. Bde. moved from Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit to Forward Operating Base Warrior in Kirkuk and finally to COS Marez where they were tasked with operating the Mosul Reconstruction Cell. The brigade conducted key leader engagements, provided technical assessments, performed site visits and tracked millions of dollars worth of construction projects. They also worked with Mosul city leaders to develop sustainable support for essential services and partnered with several Iraqi army field engineer regiments to aid the IA's engineering technical and tactical capabilities.
The 18th Engineers will return home to Heidelberg, Germany.
"The Soldiers, officers and non-commissioned officers of the 18th have done a great job here and are anxious to get home," said Col. Matthew Russell, 18th Engineer Brigade commander. "We were moved around. We probably moved around more than most brigades' have in the past few years, three major cities, three major moves. We've conducted uncharacteristic lines of operations that a normal engineer brigade doesn't do, but we took it on."
With recent troop reductions in the urban centers in accordance with the Security Agreement with the Government of Iraq, coalition forces will continue to remain flexible. The task ahead seems an appropriate fit for the 130th Engineer Brigade "Sappers" out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, who's Engineer motto, Essayons, means "Let Us Try."