Story by Spc. Samuel Soza
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – During several ceremonies in Babil and Wasit provinces, July 25, U.S. forces handed over three bases to the Iraqi government – Contingency Operating Post Zulu, Patrol Base Mahawil, and Camp Shaheen.
These additions raise the number of U.S. bases closed or transferred in United States Division-South to 13 since February, with nine more scheduled to close before Sept. 1.
All of the transfers were completed with the signing of documents by Samir al-Haddad, the receivership secretariat for the Government of Iraq, and the respective former base commanders.
Capt. Ryan Pless, commander of Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, signed for COP Zulu.
“We’ve been conducting retrograde operations for the last two to three months,” the Plant City, Fla., native said. “A lot of troopers have put in a lot of long hours and cleaned the place up; made it represent our high standards, so we could turn it over to the Government of Iraq in the best quality of shape we can.”
COP Zulu has been in operation since just before the surge of U.S. forces in 2007. The 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. has been working with three battalions of 32nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division for the past 10 months, Pless said.
Moments after signing for COP Zulu, Mr. Haddad and his staff walked to Camp Shaheen, a small post adjacent to COP Zulu and home to a unit of U.S. Special Forces, and signed the official documents there as well.
Capt. Michael Washburn, commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, signed over PB Mahawil.
The fair-market value of the property at Mahawil transferred by 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. came to more than $500,000 according to the documents.
Company A has been at PB Mahawil since October 2009, working with the Iraqi Army’s 2nd Battalion, 31st Brigade, 8th IA Div., commanded by Col. Muhammad Khudair Saloom. They will continue to work with the 2nd Bn, 31st Bde. from Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, including special training and advising with nightly patrols, until they return to the U.S. with the rest of their battalion later this year.
The 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. and 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. are elements of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“Our partnership has been very good,” said Washburn, a Yorktown, Va., native. “Myself and Col. Saloom have a great understanding of what needs to be accomplished and we agree on the final outcomes and how to get there.”
“We look forward to keeping working with them until our stay is done here [in Babil province],” Washburn said.
Lt. Col. Chris Kennedy, commander of 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., felt similarly about his Soldiers and their mission in Wasit province.
“Today’s a great day for the Iraqi army,” said Kennedy, a native of Fort Benning, Ga. “It’s the natural progression as we move to an advise and assist mission [and] assist them in the fight. It doesn’t mean our mission is ended here. We will continue to train with them throughout the province.”