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
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
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
United States Force – West, Iraq
(Previously Multi National Force – West)
II Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd)
21 January 2010