Stryker brigade taking over from 101st

The Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigade has been replacing the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq, for about three weeks.

This week, as most of the 19,000 101st soldiers have returned home, Brig. Gen. Carter Ham from Fort Lewis becomes the chief of coalition operations in northern Iraq.

Ham will command about 6,000 troops, most of them from Stryker. He will also have at his disposal several thousand Iraqi policemen, security officers and border guards.

In addition to continuing to rebuild Mosul, which has a population of about 1.8 million, and oversee security and other operations, Ham and his troops will work closely with the local Iraqi leaders, and also continue to develop intelligence.

Although the Stryker brigade is about the quarter of the size of the 101st, it moves faster and can respond quicker to threats, as well as the advantage of state-of-the-art communications, military officials have said.

But Stryker will have decreased responsibilities as well, part of the plan to hand power over to the Iraqi government.