1. On behalf of Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, I thought you'd like to know that the 34th Infantry Division took command of Multi-National Division South in Basra, Iraq at 2:00 a.m. Twin Cities time today.
2. Months of training have prepared our Citizen-Soldiers for this important mission, and we are in good spirits as we partner with the Iraqis to transition security, professionalize the Iraqi Security Forces and continue to build essential services for people throughout southern Iraq.
3. A short summary of today's events is below and a photo is attached. Follow us throughout our deployment at www.TheRedBulls.org. Subscribe to our daily newsletter, "The Red Bull Report" by e-mailing "subscribe" in the subject line to public.affairs@TheRedBulls.org.
4. Thanks for your support. We are looking forward to upholding the proud tradition of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division in Iraq.
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq - The 34th Red Bull Infantry Division assumed control of Multi-National Division - South from the 10th Mountain Division in a transfer of authority ceremony here May 20.
The Red Bulls now support Iraqi security forces throughout nine provinces in southern Iraq. This is the first time since World War II the 34th Inf. Div. has established its headquarters in a combat zone.
General Ray Odierno, Multi-National Force - Iraq commanding general. Lt.Gen. Charles Jacoby, Multi-National Corps - Iraq commanding general, government of Iraq officials and Iraqi security force leaders were on-hand to witness the historic transfer.
"This is an exciting time in Iraq," said Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, 34th Inf. Div. commanding general. "On behalf of the 34th Inf. Div., we are privileged to be invited by the government of Iraq to be a partner in improving the future of the people of this great Iraqi nation."
"Over the last year, the Iraqi Army and police have taken responsibility for the protection of the Iraqi people," said Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, 10th Mtn. Div. commanding general. "The 10th Mountain Division was proud to be their partners in this success."
While the Red Bulls are ready to take hold of the reins, Nash stressed that the job in Iraq is still not done. "My Soldiers will be in a supporting partnership role," said Nash. "Our major partnership focus will be with the Iraqi police and the Department of Border Enforcement in order to assist them as they secure the people of southern Iraq. We are highly impressed with the professionalism and capability of the Iraqi Army."
Iraqi officials in attendance expressed both their gratitude to the departing 10th Mountain and their anticipation of working with the Red Bulls. "The 10th Mountain Division did a great, great job as an ISF partner during a crucial time in Iraq's history, said Capt. Hayder Adannan, an engineer and liaison officer for Coalition forces in Wasit province. "The 34th . . . I've already met with their commander. They already know me, and I look forward to working with them."
Col. Auyid Ibrahin, chief civil affairs officer for the Iraqi Army 10th Division, said "We're going to lose some friends, but we're going to have new friends." The Red Bulls' objectives throughout southern Iraq include helping with economic development and governance, increasing security for the Iraqi people and assisting with the training of Iraqi security forces.