Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 20, 2007 - Control of Multinational Division Baghdad changed hands during a ceremony here yesterday. The 1st Cavalry Division will redeploy to Fort Hood, Texas, while 4th Infantry Division takes over operations in the Iraqi capital.
Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, presided over the ceremony. He said the battle in Iraq has changed significantly during the last year, and that the success could be directly linked to the 1st Cavalry Division's efforts in and around Baghdad.
"Significant events are often a result of the right people being in the right place at the right time," Odierno said. "In the case of Baghdad in 2006 and 2007, the right people were the magnificent men and women of Multinational Division Baghdad and their dedicated Iraqi security force partners."
Odierno said the soldiers of the "First Team" 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, which is apparent by the increased activity in all the Baghdad markets, traffic on the streets, numerous soccer games played in all the local neighborhoods, and the smiles on the children's faces.
"The biggest success was the complete, full partnership they formed with their counterparts in the Iraqi army, national police, station police, patrol police and local leaders," Odierno continued. "Because of their shared concern, genuine care and daily engagement, they earned the trust and confidence of Baghdad's people. In turn, it sparked a grassroots movement among the millions of residents and empowered them to feel in control of their own destiny."
The 1st Cavalry Division commander then addressed the audience of Iraqi and coalition leaders, looking back on a year's worth of successes and sacrifices by his MND-B forces.
"Although the cost has been high, and the toll on the lives of our soldiers has been great, our cause was just and noble, and we have prevailed," Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., said. "We have fought together, side by side, and have won every time. Our soldiers know it, and the enemy knows it.
"There is not a place in Baghdad where the enemy feels free or a place to call his home," he said.
Fil then thanked the Iraqi army soldiers and said his team's success came with a partnership between the Iraqi and coalition forces. "We have done this in partnership. Whatever progress we have made, whatever success we have secured, is a testimony to that partnership and the result of our combined strengths," he said.
With the colors of his division cased and ready to accompany him home, Fil said his thoughts were focused on the efforts of his soldiers and on the continued success of the 4th Infantry Division.
"As always, at the end of a challenging tour, we leave with mixed emotions. It is quite reassuring to know that we are handing the battle over to such a capable division, and that's the 'Steadfast and Loyal' 4th Infantry Division, led by the supreme command team of Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond and Command Sgt. Maj. John Gioia," Fil said, referencing the division's motto, "Steadfast and Loyal."
"I'm leaving totally confident that you'll be able to quickly build and expand upon the efforts and that the Ironhorse soldiers are ready for the tests that lie ahead," he said.
With the 4th Infantry Division Ironhorse Band accompanying the ceremony, Fil passed on the mantle of Multinational Division Baghdad to Hammond, who uncased his colors and assumed command of the MND-B mission as the division colors changed position in the honor guard procession.
"As we, the 4th Infantry Division, return to Baghdad for our third deployment, we truly feel we have two homes. One in Fort Hood, Texas, and our other is clearly here in Baghdad. We look forward to once again serving with our Iraqi brothers.
With obvious pride in the troops of his new command, Hammond closed by thanking the 1st Cavalry Division troops for their great efforts in providing a smooth transition with 4th Infantry Division and took a moment to recognize all the forces that make up Multinational Division Baghdad.
"To Major General Fil and the 1st Cavalry Division, magnificent job. Your 'Steadfast and Loyal' efforts have improved security across Baghdad, but more important, I see hope for the future. We must build on this and continue progress. We still face determined enemies who threaten peace and security. There is still much work ahead. Our job, alongside our Iraqi counterparts, is to provide stable security and set conditions for improving life in Baghdad.
"This we will do as a team," Hammond said. "It is my honor to represent the men and women of Multinational Division Baghdad."
(Army Sgt. Jason Thompson is assigned to 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs.)