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Diyala, Iraq – A transition of authority ceremony took place Oct. 27 at Forward Operating Base Warhorse in the Diyala Province of Iraq, signifying the end of a 15-month tour of duty for the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment Dragoons and the start of a year-long tour of duty for Fort Wainwright’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Arctic Wolves.
“It’s a very important day because the Arctic Wolves are coming in – a very good organization,” said Maj. Gen Mark Hertling, 1st Armored Division and Multi-National Division-North commander. “They’re coming at a very historic time in Diyala. There’s still a lot of clearing out of enemies to do, but, more than that, they’re going to be forced to meet the big challenges of reconstruction, improvement of economic capabilities and the assistance of the government in a time where we’re about to head into elections.”
Hertling said he’s seen Col. Burt Thompson, 1-25th SBCT commander, and his Arctic Wolves rise to the challenge of taking over the battlespace.
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Above left: Col. Burt Thompson and Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Cervantes, commander and command sergeant major of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, uncase the brigade colors during a transition of authority ceremony Oct. 27.
Above right: Soldiers from 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment stand in formation during a transition of authority ceremony as they are prepare to be relieved of their tour of duty in Iraq by 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
Left: Soldiers from 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stand tall during a transition of authority ceremony signifying taking over the battlespace and relieving 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with Colonel Thompson and his group because, (from) what I’ve seen so far, they have come right into the province and have really taken charge from the first day,” Hertling said.
The biggest thing Hertling said he hopes to accomplish with the 1-25th SBCT is setting the conditions for the Diyala provincial elections.
“What that’s going to take is continued economic improvements, because the governor has very distinct plans for what he wants to do for agriculture, infrastructure and helping people of the province,” Hertling said.
The mission for the 1-25th SBCT doesn’t stop there, however.
“We want to get at making Diyala a better place for the citizens in the province, but also we want to get at establishing security as a primary line of effort for us, and we are doing that,” Thompson said. “We want to improve economics, prosperity for the people of Diyala. All of this together – this is our mission here. It’s to fight a counter-insurgency fight and propel Iraq, Diyala for us specifically, forward.”
Thompson said the 2nd SCR set 1-25th SBCT up for success, and the transition from the regiment to the brigade has been going smoothly.
“The operative word there is, ‘transition,’” Thompson said. “It is a change from one brigade combat team, or regiment, to a new one and, certainly, the most volatile time for any organization is during a period of transitions. So we have to make sure, which we have done here, that it is smooth.”
Despite the huge undertaking, Thompson said he has no doubt in his mind 1-25th SBCT will accomplish its mission in Diyala.
“They have a good training background; they know what they’re getting into; they all have a very good feel for what they have to accomplish very quickly,” Hertling said. “They’re ready for it. There are some very sharp Soldiers that I’ve met in every single one of the battalions. It’s good to have that new energy here to bring new things to the province. They’ve come just at the right time.”