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The 4th Infantry Division will hand over command of U.S. troops in Baghdad to the 1st Cavalry Division on Tuesday, marking the third time in three years that the two units have relieved one another in Iraq’s capital.

The change of command comes as U.S. and Iraqi forces work through implementing the security agreement that went into effect Jan. 1, outlining how U.S. troops are to leave major cities by June and Iraq as a whole by the end of 2011.

Both units are from Fort Hood, Texas. The 4th ID relieved the 1st Cav in December 2007, beginning a 15-month tour that saw major fighting in Sadr City, the Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad.

"I think the Iraqi Security Forces are getting better each day," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, 4th ID commander, said in a news release looking back at the division’s tour. "There was a time prior to Sadr City back in March that I was skeptical. But following Sadr City, they have taken some fine leaps forward and they continue to make progress every day. I’m particularly proud of them through the recent provincial elections."

The Ironhorse Division, as the 4th ID is known, will complete its third Iraq tour since 2003.

Over the last 15 months, the number of attacks per month decreased from more than 700 in March and April of 2008 to fewer than 100 attacks in December 2008 and January 2009, the U.S. military said.

Also during that time, MND-B’s area of operations doubled in size, while at the same time the total combat power of the division decreased from 44 combat battalions to 21 battalions, officials said.

A total of 94 soldiers in MND-B were killed during the 4th ID’s command tour.

"I really thought coming in that we could fix all of Baghdad at once — but you can’t," Hammond said.

"You can’t be strong everywhere at once, but you can be strong at certain points along the way; capitalize on that, put it back into the hands of the people and before long, it creates an over arching effect. I think that concept has been key to the success we’ve seen here."


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