Baghdad – Lt. Gen. John R. Vines relinquished command of Multi-National Corps-Iraq to Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli at a ceremony held January 19th at Al Faw Palace in Iraq. Gen. George Casey, Multi-National Force-Iraq commander, presided over the ceremony. Following the passing of the colors from the XVIII Airborne Corps to the V Corps Commander, 35-year veteran infantryman Lt. Gen. Vines addressed the servicemembers:
“The [troops] who deserve the large share of credit are the young men and women . . . operating across Iraq. They have bloodshot eyes from too little sleep and from watching the terrain for possible enemies. Those are the real heroes.”
During the ceremony, Gen. Casey thanked the XVIII Airborne Corps commander and his troops for their unwavering dedication and praised them for the great accomplishments achieved throughout their tour.
“To the departing, well done. The XVIII Airborne Corps made a difference in Iraq and we are justifiably proud of the accomplishments.”
During their tour, the XVIII Airborne Corps saw the Iraqi Security Forces increase from 130,000 to nearly 230,000 trained and equipped troops, representing 10 Iraqi Army divisions and Ministry of Interior Forces. The Corps also conducted stability operations supporting establishment of an Iraqi government and assisting in three successful elections. With the assistance of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the Iraqi Army developed one division, eight brigades and 37 battalions which now work alongside coalition forces for
80 percent of security missions.
The Corps’ troops also helped restore essential services and assisted in economic development, helping set conditions for a transfer of authority to V Corps. One such coalition project was completed by Japanese forces earlier this week in southern Iraq. The Japanese troops attended the inauguration of a new school in the city of Samara, 270 Kilometers south of Baghdad January 17th. Japan has contributed in building the school. Japanese troops have been stationed in the Shiite town since the beginning of 2004. It’s the first deployment by Japan since World War II to a country here fighting is ongoing.
Projects such as these are possible due in part to a more secure Iraq. U.S. Navy F-14s, and F/A-18s aided to that secure environment by providing close air support to Coalition troops in contact with anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinities of Baghdad, and Ramadi. U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft also flew missions, and Royal Air Force fighters supported non-traditional ISR operations.
In all, coalition aircraft flew 50 close air support missions Jan. 18 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions included support to Coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities, and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.
A coalition aircraft engaged and killed three terrorists near Tal Afar, January 17th. The OH-58D Kiowa helicopter attacked after observing the three emplacing an Improvised Explosive Device.
Source: Multi-National Force-Iraq