Please pass on,
SgtsMaj, MGySgts, CMDCMs, Marines and Sailors, Saturday, 23 January at 1100
will mark the end of the Marines in Iraq as an organization. II MEF (fwd)
will conduct a Transfer of Authority Ceremony with the First Armored
Division without a Relief in Place from any incoming unit. USF-W (formally
MNF-W) will merge with USD-C (formally MND-Baghdad) and will cease to exist.
After 6 years, over 850 Marines and Sailors killed in combat and another
8800 wounded we have completed our mission. At our peak, we had almost
26,000 Marines and Sailors on deck, close to 200 aircraft, over 380,000
pieces of ground equipment, and were averaging close to 2000 significant
events a month. We have added a whole new generation of Heros; and names
like Al Nasiriyah, Fallujah and Ramadi will be added to our History books.
Words can't begin to explain the magnitude of effort and sacrifice our
Marines and Sailors have gone through to help the Iraqi people. Each year
since the initial invasion, Marines and Sailors from all over the Corps have
been a part of the revolving I MEF (fwd) and II MEF (Fwd) Commands. Each
year has been different with its own sets of unique challenges and each
successive year, the incoming organization has built upon the successes of
the outgoing organization.
This year was no different, we didn't have anywhere near the level of
fighting that previous MEFs have done. However, we did conduct many
operations, maintained security, continue to professionalize the Iraqi
Security Forces, develop good governance and economics, assisted with the
continued establishment of the Rule of Law and oversaw the peaceful
transition of the provincial government. We also had one unique mission
that we can call our own. That was to finally bring the Marine Corps home.
Over the past year, we have simultaneously conducted the responsible
drawdown of 24,000 Personnel, over 34 COPs and FOBs, including Baharia,
Rawah, and TQ and sent six years worth of equipment out of theater.
For those of you who served with me this year, thank you. It was long and
difficult at times, with our own set of challenges, but we did it.
It has been an honor to serve with you.
For those of you who have left your boot prints over here at least once
during the last six years; thanks to you too. You set the stage for us to
finish the job. It has been costly, it has been challenging, it has taken a
while with quite a few dark days. But, in the end, it was worth it.
All Marines and Sailors, including those who remained stateside have
contributed to the overall success of the Marines and Sailors in Iraq and;
all of us have known someone who didn't make it back alive or has permanent
injuries. It is up to us to ensure that those who follow never forgot their
sacrifice or what we did here.
Collectively, we have added another illustrious chapter to the successful
story of our Marine Corps. One that all of us can be proud of.
United States Force - West, Iraq
(Previously Multi National Force - West) II Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd)
21 January 2010