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Story by Sgt. Bill Addision, JASG-C/PA; Photos by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris JASG-C/PA

The New Year marked a new beginning for the government of Iraq, when control of the “Green Zone” in central Baghdad was transitioned to the Iraqi government in a ceremony marking the first of many changes since the new Security Agreement went into effect Jan. 1.

Col. Steven Ferrari, Commander of the Joint Area Support Group – Central (JASG-C), the United States Army unit in charge of the Green Zone, spoke at a ceremony marking the turnover of the area’s security to Staff Gen. Emmad Yassir Saed Salman Al-Zuhiri, Baghdad Brigade commander.

“Today is the first day of the security agreement going into effect between our two countries. Our mission is still to provide security and support to the Iraqi government, but truly we are a support element and they are in the lead,” said Ferrari.

“The transition of Green Zone control from Coalition Forces to Iraqi forces is considered the first step in the implementation of this agreement. Here is Iraq taking another step toward the future, signaling to its citizens and the international community the security responsibility for the Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad,” he added.

"Our mission is still to provide security and support to the Iraqi government, but truly we are a support element and they are in the lead."

Team noted the historic aspect of the ceremony, turning the seat of Iraqi government back to the government of Iraq since the occupation by Coalition Forces five years earlier.

“It’s a good feeling because it’s time for change. It’s time to give the country back to Iraq. They’re proud of their country, they’re ready. We’re here to support them for as long as they need us to be here. I think it’s a great day for them and it’s great to be part of this historic day,” said Ferrari.

Al-Zuhiri’s soldiers will begin a six-month training and certifications transition plan with U.S. forces. This transition may be extended up to six months by mutual agreement. Ferrari said he feels confident in the professionalism of the Baghdad Brigade.

“The Baghdad Brigade has been here for awhile, this is nothing new to them. We’ll continue to support them.”

Staff General Emmad Yassir Saed Salman Al-Zuhiri (l), Commander of the Baghdad Brigade, shakes hands with Col. Steven Ferrari, Joint Area Support Group-Central and 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander, during the ceremony to mark the turnover of security for Baghdad's International Zone to Iraqis.

Along with increased Iraqi Security Forces presence at the Entry Control Points (ECPs), new Iraqi flags and Arabic signs advising that the Baghdad Brigade is manning checkpoints in the GZ will mark a new look.

“For our part, on this day, during the ceremony for this important mission, we assure you that we are committed to the same goals – full implementation of the security agreement, complete transparency and full partnership,” he said.

“Our focus right now is to ensure that working with General Al-Zuhiri’s brigade, that they are trained and that they’re ready to take full control and we can start pulling U.S. Soldiers off the check points,” said Ferrari.



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Volume 34 Number 4 Staff / Information
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