AR RAMADI, Iraq -- As the colors of red, white and black were passed from one commander to another, a piece of the future security of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, was placed in the hands of its own people.
The 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division of the Iraqi Army assumed responsibility for a large part of Ar Ramadi’s security during a ceremony held at Camp Ali on Jan. 23.
Multiple commanders from U.S. Marine, U.S. Army and Iraqi Army units in the city attended the formal ceremony to officially turn over a significant sector of central Ar Ramadi to the Iraqi battalion.
“This demonstrates the positive progression of this battalion in the course of its two years in Ramadi,” said Lt. Col. William M. Jurney, 43-year-old commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
The ceremony was held in the 2-1-7 headquarters building and was led by the Iraqi Army battalion.
Beginning with a reading from the Quran, the ceremony featured speeches from Col. Khalid, the commanding officer of the 2-1-7, and Lt. Col. Jurney, whose battalion has worked closely with the Iraqi unit since arriving in country.
Both commanders praised the progress and accomplishments of the Iraqi soldiers, citing the many operations it has conducted.
“In the months my battalion has operated aside the 2-1-7, they have directly participated in more than 10 large scale operations,” said Jurney, a resident of Statesville, N.C.
Following the speeches, Jurney passed the Iraqi colors to Col. Khalid to represent the passing of responsibility in the city.
The battalion will now independently operate within their areas of responsibility in the city.
The ceremony stands as a testament to the Coalition Forces’ confidence in the operating capabilities of the 2-1-7, said Staff Sgt. Matthew L. Graves, 31-year-old senior enlisted advisor to the 2-1-7.
“As far as being an infantry battalion, they can do it all on their own,” said Graves, a native of Chico, Calif. “They have demonstrated competence in everything a battalion needs to operate on its own.”
While the Marines expressed their confidence in the battalion, Iraqi commanders expressed their gratitude during the celebration.
The battalion commander thanked Coalition Forces for their support of the battalion and the country of Iraq.
“This is a day that has come from cooperation,” said Col. Khalid. “We did not reach this level without great help from the Marines.”
“They have served our country in a great way, and we are very grateful,” said Khalid.
With an independent Iraqi battalion operating in part of the city, the workload of the Marines here will lessen, said Graves.
Marine and Iraqi forces will now operate as equals in the fight for the city’s security.
“We look forward to (the 2-1-7’s) continued successes as we serve side-by-side to bring peace to the people of Iraq,” said Jurney.