Monday, June 8, 2009

OIF Update, June 8, 2009: Coalition Forces Close Outpost in Southeastern Mosul

Dispatches from the Front
News from Multi-National Force - Iraq.

Dispatches from the Front:

MOSUL, Iraq, June 8, 2009 -- The closing of Combat Outpost Rock located in southeastern Mosul marked a significant milestone for U.S Coalition forces serving in the capital of Ninewa Province.

COP Rock was formally returned to the land owner during a small ceremony in late May after U.S forces removed any trace of their operations.

COP Rock was the first of many Coalition force bases set to close and transfer to Government of Iraq control in Mosul as U.S forces in Iraq demonstrated their commitment to the Security Agreement which requires combat troops to relocate out of Iraq’s cities by June 30.

Outpost closures and transfers, such as this one, signify a transition of security responsibility to the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Security Forces.

“The closing of COP Rock will allow Iraqi Security Forces to take responsibility for security operations and will enable Coalition forces to focus more heavily in a training and supervisory role," remarked Staff Sgt. Devin Trathen, a soldier with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, the unit that lived and operated at the COP.

COP Rock’s closure was a significant undertaking involving assets from three different Coalition force units “One of [the] Coalition forces main objectives is the return to normalcy [in Iraq],” noted Pfc. Diego Cortez . “The closing of COP Rock is definitely a leap in this direction."

Soldiers from 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regt. and their Iraqi Army counterparts originally established COP Rock in February 2008 in an effort to provide increased security to Iraqi residents living in some of the more violent Mosul neighborhoods.

Soldiers began removing tents and the company’s command post, May 5. After packing the living area and returning equipment to Forward Operating Base Marez, engineers from the 523rd Engineer Company, known as the “Dirt Dogs”, arrived with cranes and other earth moving equipment to remove the barriers surrounding the company’s living space.

On May 25, the exterior walls surrounding the base were taken down. During the tear down, security became the number one priority for Bravo Company as the 523rd Engineer Company soldiers focused on removing the barriers and T-walls.

For the Bravo Company soldiers, closing COP Rock was a bittersweet experience. They were excited about returning the property back to the land owner, but saddened by leaving the place they called home for the past several months.

At the conclusion of the withdrawal effort, the owner walked through the property and was satisfied with the effort by Coalition forces to return the property to him.

As the deadline for U.S Combat forces to pull out of the Iraqi cities draws closer, COP Rock’s transfer marked the beginning of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s relocation out of Mosul.

With COP Rock’s closure, Bravo Company soldiers hope that the local residents will look to the Iraqi Security Forces with confidence during this transition.

“The people in the neighborhood might recognize that their country is finally standing on its own and, therefore, have more faith in their forces," said Spc. Andrew J. Smith, a soldier from Bravo Co.

(From a Multi-National Force - Iraq news release.)

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