ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq — A longtime U.S. forward operating base will soon be handed over to the Iraqis, continuing a transition toward greater Iraqi control across the nation.
Forward Operating Base Iskan was once home to more than a battalion-sized element of American soldiers. Within the month, U.S. forces will turn over the base to the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. Iraqi army soldiers could be stationed at the base as well.
"The security program is basically working," said Maj. Mike Swienton, an engineer with the 172nd Infantry Brigade. "We’re reconfiguring our area of operations and putting the Iraqi face forward."
Earlier this week, soldiers with the 172nd Support Battalion traveled to FOB Iskan to pick up vehicles and cargo containers as the U.S. military leaves the facility.
"Right now, we’re retrograding all the equipment for the FOB closure," said Staff Sgt. Shawn Goodsell of Company A, 172nd Support Battalion, out of Schweinfurt, Germany. "We’re just hoping to get them all cleared out."
FOB Iskan is distinguished by four towering smokestacks that spew differing colors of smoke. The base is home to a massive one-gigawatt power plant that currently generates at around 63 percent of its capability. The power plant, which uses heavy oil to produce electricity, was built by the Soviets in 1979 and rebuilt by the Germans in 1989. Nearby is a natural gas plant that is also part of the facility, said 1st Lt. Josh Smith, a logistics officer with 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment.
Some soldiers formerly operating out of FOB Iskan have been moved to nearby patrol bases so they still have a presence in the vicinity.
Iskandariyah was once a hotbed of insurgent activity, but violence has dropped drastically in the area.