Thursday, April 2, 2009

Basra Transfer of Authority

Earlier this week the Brits handed over control of the southern portion of Iraq to the Americans. I accompanied the Charge d'Affaires ("acting Ambassador") down to Basra for the transfer of authority ceremony. The Brits certainly know how to stage a ceremony. A bagpiper led the VIPs to their seats and a military band played and marched for our entertainment.

There were speeches by the British military, the U.S. military (General Odierno is speaking in the photo below), and Iraqi military. There were also benedictions by U.S. and British chaplains and a Muslim cleric. The U.S. raised their company flag, the Brits lowered theirs, and the band played all 3 national anthems (the Iraqi women sitting behind me sang their anthem proudly).

I bumped into a couple representataives from the Romanian army. General Tomescu is the deputy commander of one of the multi-national divisions. He was very excited to hear my "Buna ziua" greeting and we exchanged business cards.

A ride back to Baghdad on the C-130 (I miss the roomier C-17s!) and a helicopter ride from the airport to the Green Zone and I was back in the office by 4:30. Just another day in Iraq.

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