Iraq — ‘Lion‑6’ Signs Off, Turns Iraq Command to Austin

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Sept. 1, 2010 — Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no put it very sim­ply today, as he fin­ished his address at the change of com­mand cer­e­mo­ny for U.S. Forces Iraq.

“Lion 6 – Out,” Odier­no said, mean­ing that the com­man­der had fin­ished using his call sign and was head­ing for his new assign­ment at U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand in Nor­folk, Va. The cer­e­mo­ny was held here at the al Faw Palace – an ornate edi­fice built near the Bagh­dad air­port by Sad­dam Hus­sein to com­mem­o­rate the vic­to­ry over Iran in 1988. 

Odier­no hand­ed the reins of the com­mand to Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III. Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. Ambas­sador to Iraq James Jef­frey and Iraqi secu­ri­ty lead­ers attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny. U.S. Marine Corps. Gen. James Mat­tis, U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand Chief, presided as Odier­no passed the com­mand flag to Austin. 

The change in com­mand coin­cid­ed with a change in mis­sion for USFI. “The Unit­ed States has end­ed its com­bat mis­sion in Iraq,” Biden said before the cer­e­mo­ny. “Iraqi troops are tak­ing lead respon­si­bil­i­ty for their country’s security.” 

The Unit­ed States kept its promise to draw down troops and end Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and put in place Oper­a­tion New Dawn, the vice pres­i­dent said. It means that the 50,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq are involved sole­ly in train­ing and men­tor­ing Iraqi units. There is a resid­ual coun­terin­sur­gency mis­sion, but even that is Iraqi-led. 

The mis­sion here, though, remains impor­tant to the Unit­ed States and to the region, Gates said. 

Gates took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to focus on the troops still in Iraq that will serve in an advise and assist role for Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces. “Even as the weight of our mil­i­tary efforts and pub­lic atten­tion has shift­ed to Afghanistan, you should know your work here going for­ward is crit­i­cal to the future of this part of the world, and to the nation­al secu­ri­ty of our coun­try,” the sec­re­tary said. “You have my grat­i­tude and respect for your ser­vice and sac­ri­fice, and for the ser­vice and sac­ri­fice of your families.” 

Gates praised Odier­no for his lead­er­ship in Iraq. Dur­ing Odierno’s tenure, the com­mand shift­ed from Multi­na­tion­al Forces Iraq to U.S. Forces Iraq. Odier­no shift­ed Amer­i­can forces out of the cities and sculpt­ed the advise and assist mis­sion that all six U.S. brigades in coun­try now have. And he did all this while rede­ploy­ing 74,000 ser­vice­mem­bers back to the Unit­ed States. 

Odier­no received his new job after only a sev­en-month break after serv­ing as the corps com­man­der in Bagh­dad. “He leaves as one of the few U.S. Army gen­er­als in his­to­ry to com­mand a divi­sion, corps and entire the­ater in the same con­flict,” Gates said. “After com­mand­ing the 4th Infantry Divi­sion in the area around Sad­dam Hussein’s home­town dur­ing the first year of the cam­paign, Gen­er­al Odier­no would lat­er take charge of the Multi­na­tion­al Corps dur­ing the dark­est days of the war.” 

The gen­er­al craft­ed the tac­tics Amer­i­can forces and their allies used to fight a coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign. “As any stu­dent of mil­i­tary his­to­ry knows, any strat­e­gy is only as effec­tive as its exe­cu­tion, and with­out Ray’s abil­i­ty to turn plans into results on the ground, we would be fac­ing a far grim­mer sit­u­a­tion out­side these walls today,” Gates said. Odier­no returned to com­mand all forces in Iraq. His mis­sion was to build on the hard-fought gains of the surge, keep the prover­bial boot on the neck of al-Qai­da in Iraq and expand the capac­i­ty and capa­bil­i­ties of Iraq’s army and police. 

“The ded­i­ca­tion of Gen­er­al Odier­no, the sac­ri­fices of the troops under his com­mand, and the efforts of our inter­a­gency and Iraqi part­ners made it pos­si­ble to be where we are today – with a dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduced troop pres­ence and a new mis­sion,” the sec­re­tary said. 

Gates said the com­mand is for­tu­nate to get Austin as the new com­man­der. The gen­er­al most recent­ly served as the direc­tor of the Joint Staff. Before that he was the corps com­man­der in Iraq and served with the 3rd Infantry Divi­sion in the ini­tial inva­sion of Iraq in 2003. 

“Lloyd Austin – like Ray Odier­no – has always led by exam­ple, ask­ing noth­ing of his troops that he would not do him­self,” Gates said. “He has the unique dis­tinc­tion of being award­ed the Sil­ver Star for val­our as a gen­er­al offi­cer, lead­ing from the front dur­ing the 3rd Infantry Division’s march to Bagh­dad more than sev­en years ago. 

“I know he will use his extra­or­di­nary tal­ents and expe­ri­ence to build on the suc­cess that has been achieved in Iraq, suc­cess bought with the blood and sweat of all who have served here,” the sec­re­tary continued. 

Odier­no reflect­ed on Iraqi and Amer­i­can accom­plish­ments in the coun­try. “This peri­od in Iraq’s his­to­ry will prob­a­bly be remem­bered for sac­ri­fice, resilien­cy and change,” he said. “But I will remem­ber it as a time when the Iraqi peo­ple stood up against tyran­ny, ter­ror­ism, extrem­ism and decid­ed to deter­mine their own des­tiny as a peo­ple and as a demo­c­ra­t­ic state.” 

The Iraqis, Odier­no said, had the help of an incred­i­bly ded­i­cat­ed group of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary per­son­nel and civilians. 

“I nev­er lost faith in the adapt­abil­i­ty, courage and men­tal tough­ness of our ser­vice­mem­bers and civil­ians to get the job done,” he said. “If there is one les­son I’ve tak­en from our involve­ment here it is the sheer mag­ni­tude of what we are capa­ble of when we trust­ed our­selves and focused on our com­mit­ment and worked side-by-side, arm-in-arm with our Iraqi partners.” 

Odier­no urged Iraqi politi­cians to move quick­ly to form a rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment based on the results of the March 7 elections. 

“A peace­ful tran­si­tion of pow­er fol­low­ing the peace­ful and cred­i­ble elec­tions,” he said, “is the strongest pos­si­ble response to al-Qai­da and oth­er ter­ror­ist organizations.” 

The Iraqi peo­ple have sent a mes­sage to their lead­ers, Odier­no said. “I urge all the polit­i­cal blocs to respond by form­ing a gov­ern­ment that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of (the peo­ples’) will,” the gen­er­al said. “It is time for Iraq to move forward.” 

Austin pledged to con­tin­ue coop­er­a­tion with the Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, even as the func­tions of his com­mand trans­fer to civil­ian con­trol. Oper­a­tion New Dawn is an endur­ing com­mit­ment to a new rela­tion­ship with the Iraqi peo­ple, he said. 

“It will require a com­pre­hen­sive and coher­ent approach by all U.S. gov­ern­ment enti­ties, inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions and the Iraqi gov­ern­ment,” Austin said. “The result of that team­work will be a sta­ble, secure and self-reliant Iraq that ben­e­fits the entire region.” 

The region will ben­e­fit from a sta­ble Iraq, Austin said, not­ing that Iraq can be a demo­c­ra­t­ic cor­ner­stone of progress in a trou­bled area. He thanked ser­vice­mem­bers, their civil­ian com­pa­tri­ots and the Iraqi gov­ern­ment for forg­ing new, peace­ful rela­tion­ships with its neighbors. 

“Although chal­lenges remain, we will face these chal­lenges togeth­er,” Austin said. “Iraq still faces a hos­tile ene­my that is deter­mined to end her progress, and Iraq’s ene­mies will con­tin­ue to try to pur­sue their objectives. 

“But make no mis­take: our mil­i­tary forces here and those of the Iraqi nation remain com­mit­ted to insur­ing that our friends in Iraq will suc­ceed,” he con­tin­ued. “And we will demon­strate our com­mit­ment through a con­tin­ued part­ner­ship, and we will help the Iraqis devel­op their capa­bil­i­ty to pro­vide for their own nation­al defense by advis­ing and assist­ing, train­ing and equip­ping the secu­ri­ty forces.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →