By Army Sgt Lindsey Bradford
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 6, 2009 - Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. took the reins from Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as the Multinational Corps Iraq commanding general in a transfer of authority ceremony April 4 at Camp Victory's Al Faw Palace here. Jacoby serves as the commander of 1st Corps, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., and Austin as the commander of 18th Airborne Corps, based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
The day not only marked a new command at the palace, it also etched a new chapter in 1st Corps' lineage; 1st Corps headquarters has not deployed to an active combat zone in more than 50 years, since serving in the Korean War in 1953.
Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Multinational Force Iraq commander and a former MNC-I commander, spoke highly of the progress Austin has made in the past 14 months, during which he commanded about 169,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at the Corps' peak strength.
"I handed the colors to Austin [in 2008], and there was no one better suited to lead the Corps," Odierno said. "They proved that every day."
Odierno said Austin and Task Force Dragon tackled great
responsibilities upon arriving in Iraq. Combat brigades involved in the "surge" strategy were beginning to redeploy, and Austin had to review current operations and adapt quickly to changes on the ground. Austin knew the challenges that were ahead of him, and he met them head on, Odierno said.
Before discussing accomplishments and the successes of the 18th Airborne Corps in Iraq, Austin asked all in attendance to take a moment to remember Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, the first Medal of Honor recipient in Operation Iraqi Freedom, who was killed in action six years ago to the day.
Austin noted that the 18th Airborne Corps was able to seize opportunities to better the country for the people of Iraq, as well as the Iraqi government and security forces.
After thanking all who served during his command, Austin said the coalition's close working relationship with Iraqi security forces would continue to flourish under Jacoby's command.
"There's still much more left to do... I am confident that [Iraq] will continue to see progress," he said.
Austin then motioned for Jacoby to take his place at the stand as the new commander of MNC-I.
"It's a great day for 1st Corps," Jacoby said. "We are here to honor the extraordinary accomplishments of the 18th Airborne Corps and mark the start of the relationship between 1st Corps and the people of Iraq."
Jacoby accepted command of MNC-I and promised his
predecessor that no other corps is more suitable for the job. He said 1st Corps soldiers, now a part of Task Force Courage, trained for months before getting their boots on ground, ensuring they would be able to provide top-notch support to coalition forces and Iraqi security forces.
"Our time is now," he emphasized, "to deliver with success and honor."
(Army Sgt Lindsey Bradford serves with Multinational Corps Iraq public affairs).