The 1st Armored Division headquarters, deployed from Wiesbaden, Germany, has assumed command of Multi-National Division–North at a time when growing clashes between Turkey and the Kurds threaten a relatively calm region of Iraq.
The transfer of authority ceremony took place Sunday at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, near Tikrit.
It marked the end of a command tour by the 25th Infantry Division, which was deployed from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
“The soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division Headquarters have performed magnificently here in Iraq through the past 14 months. I am extremely proud of everything they have done and accomplished in Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, 25th ID commander.
The 1st AD is commanded by Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling and some 1,200 of its headquarters troops are now responsible for operations in the area.
While the north has been the subject of speculation about possible U.S. troop withdrawals, the most pressing matter is the hostility between Turkey and the Kurds.
U.S. military officials say the tensions are being dealt with “behind the scenes” and have declined to talk in depth publicly about the situation.
Hertling did not talk directly about the situation at or after the ceremony, saying that the diplomatic track was being taken by all countries involved.
“I am not going to be saying anything about what we may be doing with our longtime NATO ally Turkey, although we clearly are doing things with them,” Gen. David Petraeus, overall commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, said to reporters after the change of command ceremony at Speicher. “Nor am I saying what we’re doing with our longtime Iraqi partners.”