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Iraqi ‘Cobra’ battalion takes over FOB Bernstein
ARNEWS ^ | Jan 10, 2005 | Spc. Michael Pfaff

Posted on 01/10/2006 4:43:18 PM PST by SandRat

TUZ, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 10, 2006) – The Iraqi Army assumed responsibility of Forward Operating Base Bernstein in the northern Sallah-Dihn Province Jan. 5, as part of the transfer of security in Iraq from coalition forces to the Iraqi Army.

The “Cobra” 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division took control of the base and responsibility for the security of the surrounding region from the “Balls of the Eagle” 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division during a transfer of authority ceremony.

600 joint missions paved way

The transfer took place after many months of training and joint missions with the Iraqi Army, preparing them for the eventual takeover. During the ceremony, the 2/320th commander recounted more than 600 missions, three battalion-sized operations, and countless smaller missions in a speech to the participants.

“The Cobra battalion was formed in January of 2004, so this isn’t a process that just started with our arrival,” said Lt. Col. Martin J. Holland, the battalion commander of the 320th Field Artillery Regiment. “The basis of [the transfer] really came in the training and development of the Cobra battalion over that two year stretch and building their operational capabilities where they were able to operate tactically with very little coalition assistance.”

Holland said the “Cobras” have come a long way, and Lt. Col. Safa, commander of the Iraqi Army 2nd Brigade, expressed his pride after the ceremony.

Iraqi troops gave their lives

“I’m very proud of my soldiers, my officers, and the people who have died or been injured for this,” Safa said. “All the people who died from this battalion are from Tuz. We ask God to mercy them and send them to heaven.”

During the ceremony, the “Balls of the Eagle” folded up their colors and let the “Cobras” unfold theirs. A key to Bernstein was given to Safa by Holland.

“They’ve done a great job,” Holland said. “I am very confident that the Iraqi Army is capable of controlling this battle space.”

One U.S. company staying behind

The 320th Field Artillery Regiment will leave behind a company-sized element to assist in future operations if needed, but the rest will be moved to Kirkuk, Iraq. In his speech, Holland explained that the Soldiers staying behind were for further assistance in the transition.

“Coalition forces have not and will not abandon you, the citizens of Tuz and the surrounding area, or the people of Iraq,” Holland said. “We will continue to work side-by-side with you and the local Iraqi governments to further develop your capabilities to self-sufficiency.”

Holland said he trusts the Iraqi Army is prepared to ensure the safety of the citizens in Tuz and the surrounding region, and during the ceremony remarked on the success of the Iraqi Army during recent government elections.

“Working together during the elections, you enabled over 65,000 Iraqis to vote at over 40 polling sites in a democratic election free of violence or intimidation,” Holland said. “You can build on this record of success and serve as an example to all of Iraq.”

Iraqi commander looking to future

Safa said the next step after assuming control of the base is to use it effectively in order to maintain the safety of the Iraqi people in the province.

“We are from the people,” Safa said. “And, we work for the people. If we don’t protect them, who can protect them?”

Coalition forces have been working with not only the Iraqi Army, but local police and government officials, who were at the ceremony, to provide safety in the area.

Holland said one of the keys to preparing the Iraqi Army to take over the base was working with them to work with the local police and government.

“When they [work together] they can be very successful,” Holland said.

The hand-over of this base is a step, but Holland said it’s a big step in the right direction to letting the Iraqi people stand up and protect themselves from anti-Iraqi forces who might oppose a democratic government here.

“As we progress through turning battle space back to the Iraqis and putting them in charge, that’s the right thing,” Holland said. “The only way Americans can eventually pull out is a step-by-step process. As President Bush said, as Iraqi units stand up, American units will stand down.”

(Editor’s note: Spc. Michael Pfaff serves with the 133rd MPAD.)

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: battalion; bernstein; cobra; fob; iraqi; over; takes

Lt. Col. Martin J. Holland, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, hands over the key to Forward Operating Base Bernstein to Lt. Col. Safa during a transfer of authority ceremony to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi 4th Division.
Photo Spc. Michael Pfaff
1 posted on 01/10/2006 4:43:21 PM PST by SandRat
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To: 2LT Radix jr; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; 80 Square Miles; AlaninSA; A Ruckus of Dogs; acad1228; ...

Iraqi's are taking over their own security more and more!

2 posted on 01/10/2006 4:44:03 PM PST by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Very cool. Our exit strategy is being implemented as we win the war.

Democrats, "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Impossible! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..."

3 posted on 01/10/2006 4:58:30 PM PST by DoughtyOne (MSM: Public support for war waining. 403/3 House vote against pullout vaporizes another lie.)
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To: SandRat

“We are from the people,” Safa said. “And, we work for the people. If we don’t protect them, who can protect them?”

Good. This is the kind of thinking I want to hear and starting to hear more of it.

4 posted on 01/10/2006 5:00:15 PM PST by Names Ash Housewares
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To: SandRat


5 posted on 01/11/2006 3:08:13 AM PST by E.G.C.
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