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Iraqi Army takes over FOB Hope, Sadr City

By Pfc. Paul David Ondik

FOB LOYALTY (Army News Service, March 10, 2006) – The Iraqi Army assumed control Thursday of Forward Operating Base Hope, located in the northwest corner of the Al Thawra district of Baghdad, also known as Sadr City.

Relinquishing control of the base during a Transfer of Authority ceremony Thursday was Multi-National Division – Baghdad’s 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Assuming control was the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division.

“It is our honor to accept responsibility and take over the sovereignty of Sadr City,” said Col. Hussain, the commander of 3rd Bn., 2nd Bde., 6th IAD.

“We stand in the company of those ready to accept the challenge of securing Iraq’s future,” said Lt. Col. Mark Bertolini, the commander of 3rd Bn.,67th AR, as he passed responsibility to the Iraqi battalion.

Hussain said his main objective will be to help build a unified, strong and independent Iraq. He thanked coalition forces for their partnership.

“We work side-by-side with the dedicated soldiers of the ISF every day,” said Col. Thomas Vail, commander of 506th Inf. Rgmt., 101st Abn. Div. “The 2-6 IA is already patrolling and manning control points on a daily basis.”

“To my brother and friend, Col. Hussain, I’d like to say that your soldiers look magnificent today,” said Bertolini, a native of Long Island, N.Y.

The ceremony reflects the increasing responsibility for the Iraqis as their army gains control of more battle space throughout the region, officials said.

The ceremony included the playing of the Iraqi National Anthem, the uncasing of the 2nd Bde., 6th IA Div.’s colors, and remarks by both the outgoing and incoming commanders. Also included in the ceremony was a display of the Iraqi army’s new motorized equipment, including humvees, and a martial-arts exhibition.

“The turnover of FOB Hope demonstrates the increased capabilities of the ‘Tiger’ Brigade, and thus the Iraqi army,” said Bertolini. “The 2nd Brigade has earned the reputation of a tough, well-led and well-trained unit.”

FOB Hope previously housed units of Saddam Hussein’s regime prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

(Editor’s note: Pfc. Paul David Ondik serves with the 506th IR PAO, 101st Abn. Div.)

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