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Iraqi Army's 306th Battalion Takes Over a Portion of Sadr City

Baghdad, Iraq
-- The Iraqi Army's 306th Battalion, 40th Brigade, an element of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, assumed responsibility for security operations in a portion of the Sadr City area.

Lt. Col. Gary Volesky, commander of 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, Lancers, passed symbolic colors to 306th Commander Lt. Col. Hussein Musin Bahar Al-Freejy, an eastern Baghdad native, in a ceremony on Jan. 18.

Sadr City, an area of intermittent unrest since the Lancers arrived in Iraq almost a year ago, is home to an estimated 2.5 million people.

Several areas throughout the country have been transferred to Iraqi Security Forces in the last few months, moving toward the ultimate Multi-National Forces goal of an autonomous Iraqi Security Force and Iraqi government.

The transfer was very timely, Hussein said

"The transfer is very important, especially for the elections," he said through an interpreter. "There is a great need for the people to know that the U.S. is transferring authority to the Iraqi Army."

Security operations are nothing new to the Soldiers of the 306th. The unit has been working in the Sadr City area with 2-5 Cavalry on raids, patrols and checkpoints, aiding in the capture of numerous terrorists, insurgents and weapons caches.

"My men have gained a lot of experience," he said. "Our friends, the Americans have given us a lot of training. I'm positive my men are ready. The elections will be a test. We are determined to pass this crisis successfully."

The 306th are taking the first step of the goal for the Iraqi Army to secure all of Iraq, Volesky said in a speech during the ceremony.

"This was one of many tasks we were charged with when we arrived -- getting Iraqis out front, in charge of their country," Volesky said. "We see another example of this becoming a reality today. Hussein and his Soldiers have worked extremely hard to get to where they are today. I am confident the 306th will continue to assume a greater role in the security of all of Sadr City. We look forward to the day when we turn all of the responsibility for security of Iraq to the Iraqi Security Forces." (By Spc. Jan Critchfield, 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)


Release #050121f

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