By Spc. Karl Johnson, USA
Nov. 15, 2006 – Under the clear, morning skies of a promising new day in Baghdad, the 1st Cavalry Division took the reins for Multinational Division Baghdad from the 4th Infantry Division during a transfer of authority ceremony here today. The ceremony honored the hard work and sacrifices of the departing "Ironhorse Division," and looked forward to future challenges and successes to be garnered by the "First Team."
Presiding over the ceremony was Army Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commanding general, Multinational Corps Iraq, who commanded the 1st Cavalry Division during its first rotation in Baghdad.
"It seems like only yesterday that I led the 'First Team' here," said Chiarelli. "I know you will build on the exceptional success of the 4th Infantry Division. I have complete confidence that you will make the difference."
Chiarelli said all 4th Infantry Division soldiers should be proud of what they accomplished during their tenure in Baghdad. He said the soldiers had a direct, positive impact on the Iraqi people's day-to-day lives, including increased electricity, improved sewage systems and a monumental increase in trained Iraqi security forces.
"This is the decisive period in the campaign for Iraq," said Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division. "Fighting side by side with Iraqi security forces, we have become brothers in arms, seeking a common goal."
The 4th Infantry Division commander addressed an audience of Iraqi and coalition leaders, looking back on a year's worth of successes and sacrifices by his forces.
"Since Jan. 7, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the coalition forces, standing side by side with the 'jundis' (soldiers) and 'shurtas' (officers) of the Iraqi security forces, have courageously faced a determined enemy," he said. "They have fought the terrorists in the streets, farmlands and deserts of four provinces: Baghdad, Babil, Karbala and Najaf.
"Our combined efforts enabled a new, democratically elected government to form and begin leading the Iraqi people, living in a free nation," Thurman said.
With the colors of his division cased and ready to accompany him home, Thurman's thoughts were focused on the efforts of his soldiers and on the support of their families.
"Our families and friends wait for us in the United States," he said. "They have been patient and have supported us unfailingly. We return to our homes and families proud of our contribution to bettering the lives of the Iraqi people."
Army Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commanding general, 1st Cavalry Division, uncased his colors and assumed command of the mission as the two divisions' colors changed position in the honor guard procession.
"The First Team is committed to continue to improve the security situation, to build upon the work of the "Ironhorse Division," to work hand in hand with our brothers in the Iraqi security forces, and to support those Iraqi forces as they move to the lead to assist the Iraqi people in achieving a more prosperous and peaceful future," he said.
Fil thanked the 4th Infantry Division for its efforts in providing a smooth transition with the 1st Cavalry Division, and he took a moment to recognize all the forces that make up Multinational Division Baghdad.
"While it is my honor to lead the First Team back to Baghdad, Multinational Division Baghdad is so much more than just the 1st Cavalry Division," he said. "The ranks of Multinational Division Baghdad are filled with our Iraqi partners, every service component of the U.S. military, and soldiers from nearly every active Army division in the inventory.
"I look forward to leading this amazing formation," Fil continued, "in an effort to help the good people of Iraq realize their destiny which is a safe and secure Iraq, where freedom reigns."
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