CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE SYKES, Iraq - U.S. forces officially transferred responsibility of Contingency Operating Site Sykes to Iraqi Security Forces June 14.
Soldiers assigned to Battery A, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, spent more than a month preparing the base for use by 10th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division.
U.S. forces manned the base, located near Tal Afar, since the initial stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Once Operation Iraqi Freedom transitioned to Operation New Dawn, U.S. soldiers assumed an advisory and training role to help prepare ISF to independently secure Iraq from threats.
“This is the largest base so far that we have transitioned since arriving in country,” said Lt. Col Paul Reese, deputy commanding officer assigned to 4th AAB, 1st Cav. Div.
Reese said recent gains in security provided U.S. and Iraqi forces the opportunity to successfully transition the base to ISF control.
“COS Sykes could not have transitioned if the Iraqi and Kurdish Security Forces were not working together in western Ninewa,” said Reese, a native of St. Louis.
COS Sykes supported several checkpoints and combined security areas in the region around Tal Afar, many of which U.S. forces have already transitioned to the responsibility of Iraqi Army or Kurdish Security Forces.
“Right now the Iraqi Army is stationed in the city itself,” said Reese. “As security continues to improve out there, one of the goals is to bring the Iraqi Army out of the city to allow the Iraqi Police to provide security inside the city.”
Many of the Iraqi soldiers who assumed responsibility for operations at COS Sykes are graduates of Tadreeb al Shamil, an all-inclusive training program conducted with U.S. forces at Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center earlier this year.
“The forces that are operating around Sykes and Tal Afar are the same forces that we’ve been training here as part of Tadreeb al Shamil,” said Reese. “These units are much more capable now that they they’ve gone through a rotation here and they are more effective in their area of operations.”
Captain Kyle Eldridge, a native of Bryson City, N.C., and commander of Battery A, 5th Bn., 82nd FA Regt., said U.S. forces transferred the base with many of the amenities intact for Iraqi forces, giving them a headstart on operations.
U.S. forces reallocated the equipment through the Foreign Excess Personnel Property program, which is designed to identify and distribute eligible property items to the Iraqi government.
Soldiers continue to transition FEPP items, such as housing units, office and power supplies to help build capabilities of Iraqi Security Forces units during Operation New Dawn.
“We left all of the living quarters, maintenance bays and some other equipment necessary to run their day-to-day operations such as generators,” Eldridge said.