May 17, 2008

IRON BRIGADE takes over in the Baghdad Belts

Iron Brigade takes command at FOB Hammer
By Spc. Justin Snyder, 2nd BCT, 1st Armd. Div., PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Authority in the Mada’in Qada area of Iraq transferred from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, here May 15.

“Like the Hammer Brigade, the Iron Brigade will be at your side to continue to support and assist you,” said 2nd BCT commander, Col. Pat White, to Iraqis in attendance. “We are honored to be a part of your history.”

The ceremony began with the playing of both the United States and Iraqi national anthems. Following the anthems, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of Multi-National Division – Center, addressed the crowd, which included 2nd BCT Soldiers, 3rd HBCT Soldiers and many local Iraqi leaders and citizens.

Lynch, a native of Hamilton, Ohio, began by thanking everyone for coming out and supporting the Hammer and Iron Brigades. He told the crowd that his Soldiers could not have been successful alone and that the partnerships they developed with the Iraqi Army and National Police were a large part of their success. “Everyone did this together, including the courageous people of the Mada’in Qada,” Lynch said. “We are excited about what the future holds for you as Col. Pat White and the [Iron] Brigade Combat Team takes command. They will take things to the next level in the Mada’in Qada.”

He then introduced Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., 3rd HBCT commander, and congratulated him on a job well done.

“Wayne, you did an outstanding job and your Soldiers were lucky to have served with you,” Lynch said. “Nothing was too great for you to accomplish and you accomplished it all. The people of the Mada’in Qada will miss you greatly.”

Grigsby, a native of Prince George’s County, Md., took the microphone and thanked the Iraqis for accepting him and his Soldiers as their neighbors.

When the Hammer Soldiers arrived in the Mada’in Qada 15 months ago, the region was strangled by Shia and Sunni extremist influences. The markets were vacant, women and children could not walk safely in the streets and irrigation canals were dry, leaving the area sparse of drinking water.

The Hammer Soldiers went to work alongside the IA, NP and Sons of Iraq, providing security, which led to the detaining of more than 500 suspected criminals, 47 of them being high-value targets. This allowed them to help revitalize markets, build schools and improve water distribution facilities, once again returning glory to the people of the Mada’in Qada.

On this celebratory day, Grigsby said he was proud to be a part of the rebuilding, and it was because of the bold citizens of Iraq that they were able to come so far. “All things have changed in the Mada’in Qada and we have transformed,” Grigsby said. “In our time here, the bold citizens have stepped forward. Because of you, the Mada’in Qada is a better place for future generations.”

Grigsby promised more improvements would come as the Iron Brigade took over command in the qada.“The Sledgehammer Brigade is leaving, but the mission will continue on,” Grigsby said. “Col. White and the great Iron Brigade will take on this task and continue to make the Mada’in Qada even better than it stands today.”

Grigsby left the podium and cased the colors of the 3rd HBCT, signifying the brigade’s mission completed, turning over command to the 2nd BCT.

White, from Apple Valley, Ca., followed by uncasing the Iron Brigade’s colors, signifying the transfer of authority as official. The Iron Brigade stands strong and ready to perform full spectrum operations in the Mada’in Qada.

White thanked the 3rd HBCT for a great transition and said that there is nothing more important than what the Army is doing in Iraq. He said the Iron Brigade would continue to support and assist the people of Iraq, but it would involve their help.

“As the transition moves forward, there remains one constant, to free citizens in this Mada’in Qada,” White said. “It is up to you to provide the leadership, security and economic growth required to improve this Mada’in one day at a time.”

Lynch believes this transition holds much larger meaning than just a change of command, one that will stay with the Iraqi people forever.“We are doing this for our children and your children,” Lynch said. “We are truly building a new Iraq together.”

The 2nd BCT, 1st Armd. Div., from Baumholder, Germany, has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since April in the Mada’in Qada in southeastern Baghdad Province.

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