Although the main body of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division is operating out of Camp Adder at Tallil Airbase, elements are moving to occupy an area of southern Iraq that until now hasn't hosted American troops. Their assigned mission is to stop weapons smuggling from Iran to Iraq. Units like the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment man areas of the Iraq-Iran border and stop smugglers, They have seized hundreds of explosively formed projectiles and improvised explosive devices and prevented them from being used in Baghdad.
The mission is one the brigade wasn't expecting to take on, but like the
nature of the Army, the soldiers quickly adapted once they arrived in the
Middle East. Because soldiers are needed at remote locations where military
forces haven't been before, living conditions can be austere. It can be
compared to the start of the war in Iraq when soldiers were moving into areas
where forward operating bases were just being built. However, with home grown
skills, these conditions can be quickly changed.
The team built and reinforced the perimeter of the base, a dining facility,
mobile showers, a laundry facility and air-conditioned sleeping tents for
approximately 1,000 troops. The members of the 2nd Battalion, who assisted the
Airmen in the task started their deployment working on an Iraqi Army compound
called Sparrow Hawk, but they quickly developed skills to start their own base
next door to the compound. With the completion of FOB Garry Owen, the Airmen
and the Long Knife Brigade began their next project, FOB Hunter which will be
located on an old Iraqi airfield. The second FOB, to be occupied by the 1st
Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, and FOB Garry Owen will be the two largest
posts in an otherwise vast desert that weapon and contraband smugglers have
traversed to transport lethal goods into Baghdad.
On 21 August, Romanian, Iraqi and US military leaders and several local Iraqi leaders gathered and paid their respects for the 341st Infantry Battalion, "White Sharks", 34th Territorial Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Romanian Land Forces assumption of authority from the 151st Infantry Battalion, "Black Wolves", 15th Territorial Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Romanian Land Forces at Camp Dracula.
The 151st Infantry Battalion. had completed a six-month deployment in Iraq,
which began in February and are scheduled for a six-month rotation. Located on
the Contingency Operating Base Adder near Nasiriyah, the 341st Infantry
Battalion. will conduct missions of convoy and key infrastructure security that
are similar to those performed by the 151st Infantry Battalion in the Dhi Qar
province working with the 4th BCT.
The operation was supported with assistance from Soldiers assigned to Company "A", 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division who coordinated with the Iraqi unit to ensure all necessary elements were in place for the operation. The mission included more than 100 Iraqi and US Soldiers, multiple UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and several wheeled vehicles. The Iraqi Soldiers also seized various small arms and munitions at the site and currently have custody of the four criminals.
On 12 September, one of the many concepts that many successful organizations employ, teamwork came into play during a five-day mission conducted by the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat, 1st Cavalry Division. The mission, referred to by the unit as OPERATION Chipper Jones, consisted of house-to-house searches and a series of raids to seek out and arrest criminals and illegal weapons in northern Baghdad locations near Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Chipper Jones was a simple, yet very effective mission, gave them the chance to spend more time with the locals and establish a better perspective with the Iraqi people. The time spent with locals reaped major benefits for the 5th Battalion, 82nd FA Regiment Soldiers when a local farmer escorted the unit directly to a sizable weapons cache in a village near Baghdad. He was upset about insurgents damaging his crops when conducting hasty mortar attacks directed at the Joint Base Balad. Along with finding illegal weapons, the Long Knife Solders completed mounted and dismounted patrols in areas where, historically, there were many incidences of indirect fire and insurgent activity. JB Balad had earned the nickname "Mortaritaville" due to the amount mortar fire it receives. But thanks to a recent surge of additional Soldiers in Baghdad and the surrounding areas, the indirect fire has dramatically decreased. Operations such as Chipper Jones have quelled the violence in northern Baghdad, and most of the people of Iraqi express a greater sense of security with the increased presence of US Soldiers.
On 24 September, the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division established a mission that stretches across two provinces and 7,200 square kilometers in southern Iraq. Based on the large area of land mass coverage, the Thunder Horse Squadron moved a company-size unit from Contingency Operating Base Adder, which is the headquarters for the 4th BCT, to Joint Security Station Jenkins, where the unit is co-located with the 2nd Battalion, 40th Iraqi Army Brigade.
By relocating the Soldiers, the battalion can easily conduct joint patrols with the Iraqi Army in northern Dhi Qar, an area that has not seen coalition forces for more than two years. The presence of American Soldiers will help the Iraqi patrols to bring more stability to this region. Along with the ability to accomplish the huge mission of the battalion, the 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment is focused on providing quality of life resources for those Soldiers selected to live in the remote security station by improving on the facilities of the two Forward Operating Bases, FOB Garry Owen and FOB Hunter, which were recently built along the southeastern border of Iraq.
In addition, the Brigade is in the process of resourcing Joint Security
Station Jenkins with some of the same amenities the Soldiers were afforded at
Contingency Operating Base Adder. The project requires support from a number
of agencies, such as the Navy Engineers, who recently installed amenities such
as air conditioners, electricity and plumbing at the security station. The
next, and possibly most important to the Soldiers, will be free internet
service which will allow the Thunder Horse Soldiers to communicate with family
and friends back home in the states even though they are in the middle of
southern Iraq and living with the Iraqi Army.
A hugely successful first encounter with great potential to further develop relationships with some outstanding Iraqi Soldiers, the Soldiers departed Forward Operating Base Hunter before sunrise, and quickly set up their headquarters in the sandy northern desert where the Head Hunter and 5-82 Bulldog Soldiers could perform area reconnaissance. This was an important step, as the Long Knife Soldier and Iraqi elements searched houses and buildings as one team to build partnerships in the area.
The terrain was quite diverse in the desert, with mountains to the south, reminding the Soldiers of their mission readiness exercise last winter at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA. The major difference being the fact that along many roads in northern Mayson, you can see the Iranian soldiers guarding their territory on the other side of the Iraq-Iran border. The population of the area was extremely sparse, with the majority of the local nationals who are oil field workers, perform the tasks required to bring the vast natural resource to market, which helps the country become stable economically.
Though Operation GREENVILLE was mainly designed to locate Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and other unexploded ordnances in the area, the Long Knife and Iraqi soldiers were also expecting to uncover bombs and land mines left over from the Iran-Iraq war. During their mission, the Coalition Forces patrolled more than 1000 miles, visited 12 Iraqi Border towns and acquired loads of valuable information that should be useful in future missions.
On 28 September, Soldiers of the 38th Iraqi Army (IA) Brigade and the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division completed their second combined tactical air insertion in the Amarah, Iraq area. The 38th IA is focused on reaching the tribal villages in some of the more remote areas of the Maysan Province. The ability to move by air allows the Soldiers to search areas seldom patrolled by coalition forces. The 2nd Battalion, which has partnered with the 38th IA Brigade. for the last three months, continues to support the IA units while conducting counter-smuggling operations along the Iraq-Iran border.
The combined patrol canvassed three different villages where the Iraqi and American patrol leaders met with local national officials. The leaders identified ways to work together to bring greater progress to the more isolated areas of the province. Members of the patrol also handed out fliers promoting the Coalition tips line, which is used by locals to report smuggling and any suspicious activity. The partnered units will continue to operate throughout Maysan as they work in coordination with the provincial government to integrate tribal villages.
On 09 October, the Commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team indicated that operations of US led forces in southeastern Iraq have disrupted a major arms-smuggling network blamed for distributing deadly Iranian-made roadside bombs and rockets in Iraq. The Brigade has committed 1,800 troops or more than half of their 3,500 strong force to Iraq's Maysan border province north of Basra. Since their deployment to Iraq in July, the Brigade has seized more than 8,000 weapons crossing into Iraq from Iran, including about 600 Explosively Formed Penetrators or Projectiles (EFPs) and a number of Iranian-made rockets. EFPs, which can pierce armor, are a particularly deadly form of roadside bomb. US officials have accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Qods force of supplying those munitions as well as rockets to Shi'ite militias in Iraq for attacks on US and Iraqi forces.
On 15 October, the Regional Training Center, operated by the Iraq Army,
located at Camp Ur near Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq,
produced enough troops to fill a battalion during the basic enlisted training
and officer course graduations. The two courses produced approximately 800 new
Iraqi soldiers, of which the majority were enlisted. The training center also
produced its first class of officers in a 16-week training course that was
long and difficult for these new officers. The results will be that the Iraqi
Army will benefit from the addition of these officers and the future of the
Iraqi Army will be bright and promising. A select few of those bright and
promising new officers received certificates of achievement for graduating at
the top percentage of their classes. The graduating soldiers and officers are
being assigned to Iraqi Army units throughout southern Iraq, and bringing new
training concepts and skills with them.
The group travelled down a long highway for an hour before leaving the main roadways for dirt roads and small villages, filled with children and farm animals being attended to by the adults in the area. The American and Romanian team found an area of the open desert where they could easily maintain proper security and maintain a good view of the surrounding areas. The Long Knife artillery team brought a night vision device that provided the ability to easily see objects hundreds of meters away, even in the low visibility conditions. The team agreed that working with the Romanians, as they are among the few forward observers to work directly with troops of another country, brings an honor they will always remember. Just after nightfall, the 4th Brigade Combat Team artillerymen, set up their equipment and began observation of the local Iraqi citizens during normal evening activities.
Vision became greatly improved as the first illumination artillery rounds were
launched from COB Adder, lighting up the sky as though the sun was beginning
to rise, and the team began to notice a vehicle with a handful of suspicious
looking men. The illumination rounds did their job of detouring criminal
actions and improving visibility, as the suspicious group fled the scene. The
group observed a second volley of illumination rounds just in time for the
observers to confirm whether the group was preparing to do harm or if they
were only on a routine trip outside of town. The joint Romanian and American
artillery teams spent the remainder of the night observing the area and
improving their relationship as coalition partners.
Organization and training of these newly formed EOD groups is another step forward for the Iraqi Security Forces in Muthana. It makes them more self-sufficient and encourages them to take on greater responsibility and tougher missions, without Coalition support. The training started with classroom instruction, then elevated to hands-on practical exercises and culminated with a live detonation of a cache of TNT previously found and confiscated during a mission. The event provided another step on the road to a trained, professional Iraqi security force able to carry out stability operations in southern Iraq.
On 10 November, the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division returned to the First Team's fold after spending the first few months in Balad where their initial mission was securing a key airport north of Baghdad.
Now their new assignment is partnering with the 41st Iraqi Army Brigade in the historic tri-province area of southern Iraq, operating out of Joint Security Station Kumayt. The key elements of organization that were identified as essential to the building of the 41st Brigade included: medical training, orientation and training of their new troops, supply logistics and equipment maintenance. In carrying out the initial stages of reorganization, the Black Dragon artillery team established a medical training program, a master fitness program and a maintenance program to help address these concerns and to facilitate the transformation of the newly formed unit.
The medical team has trained four combat medics and 24 combat lifesavers in the new unit. They are training more combat lifesavers to increase the combat effectiveness of the brigade. The mechanics, assigned to the Black Dragons' "G" Company, taught hands-on classes to the Iraqi troops. The new troops are building their capabilities to maintain equipment they are scheduled to receive in early December. The shared knowledge will serve as an asset for successful operations as the new Iraqi unit makes the transition to independent operations.
On 15 November leaders from the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Border Patrol met with Coalition leaders for the first time in the Maysan Province, near the provincial capital of Amarah. For weeks in advance, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division leaders worked behind the scenes to bring commanders from the 11th Border Enforcement, the 38th and 41st Iraqi Army Brigades and the Maysan Police together. The Long Knife Brigade shared information on suspected criminal activity and provided plans for future cooperative efforts to increase border security in the province. Up to this point, the border patrol, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army have done great work in securing the province.The conference represented a huge step toward synchronizing all those successes to close security gaps and secure the province as a whole.
Three of the battalions from the Long Knife Brigades are operating in Maysan.
The 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment is partnered with the border patrol
element to interdict munitions and arrest criminals crossing from Iran into
Iraq. The 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment is partnered with the 38th IA
Brigade and the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment is partnered with
the 41st IA Brigade. During these combined operations, the Iraqi Security
Forces in southern Iraq have arrested approximately 200 suspected criminals
and seized more than 9,000 various munitions, including Improvised Explosive
Devices and Explosively Formed Projectile Materials, since the Long Knife
Brigade arrived this summer.
It is always a significant event for a brigade to host a senior Army leader, but for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, hosting this leader was a reunion. General Odierno is intimately familiar with the Fort Hood-based brigade because his previous assignment as Commanding General of III Corps and Ft. Hood from May 2006 to May 2008. The visit of General Odierno included an update brief on operations from the Long Knife Brigade staff and a visit to the 10th Iraqi Army Division at Camp Dhi Qar, which is adjacent to COB Adder. Currently, the brigade is partnered with the 10th Iraqi Army Division to secure the population and interdict the flow of munitions in and around southern Iraq.
On December 08, Coalition Soldiers of Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq
began partnering with the Iraqi Department of Veterinary Medicine to improve
the Samawa Veterinary Hospital and a nearby slaughterhouse. The improvements
will help the veterinarians diagnose and treat livestock while increasing the
slaughterhouse’s cleanliness in the southwestern Iraqi province. The Muthanna
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat
Team, 1st Cavalry Division delivered a new livestock treatment center and an
electric generator, which will greatly enhance operations at Samawa Veterinary
The Muthanna PRT and 43rd Medical Detachment. also cared for 28,000 sheep and
treated more than 150 cattle during a three day period. The medical detachment
analyzed animal blood and tissue samples provided by the Muthanna Veterinary
Department to diagnose livestock diseases in the province. These evaluations
are an invaluable asset to the local veterinarians to help in determining
preventive and treatment strategies for livestock of the region. The efforts
of the Long Knife Brigade, 43rd Medical Detachment, Texas A&M University,
Muthanna PRT and Iraqi Department of Veterinary medicine will positively
impact the lives of livestock in the province and the associated well-being
of its citizens for years to come.
Once the candidates were chosen, the Soldiers offered the children and their parents a visit to COB Adder's audiology facility to test the children's hearing. Although the facility is for routine American Soldiers' hearing examinations, the team expanded their services to analyze the hearing for the Iraqi children. One after another, the children went into the audiology booth for tests involving the detection of tones of various frequencies or pitches. The results were compiled into a detailed profile for each child, and the audiologist identified candidates for hearing aids.
The parents said they were incredibly grateful and hopeful because this was
the first time their children ever received hearing tests. In addition to the
hearing examinations, Soldiers from the 27th BSB Rough Riders also provided
the girls with various school supplies and toys donated by families in the
During the deployment, the Regiment of Mounted Rifleman drastically improved the security as they conducted more than 930 company-level operations and more than 27,600 combat patrols. They cleared more than 64,800 miles of roads and found and reduced more than 1,000 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and 35 vehicle-borne IEDs. The Task Force and Iraqi Security Forces also captured about 3,500 insurgents and recruited more than 35,000 Iraqis to join their military and police forces.
This was the third deployment to Iraq for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom I in
2003, and Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2005. The Greywolves begin their
third deployment in Iraq, having served in Operation Iraqi Freedom II in 2004
and Operation Iraqi Freedom IV (06-07) in 2006.
This stopover in Kuwait is a necessary step which involves the processes of reception, staging, training, onward movement and integration. The reception phase began when DSTB Soldiers arrived to Camp Buehring, where they scanned their identification cards into a computer database which records their arrival date, and that they are in theater. It's the time when the clock officially begins ticking on their 12-month deployment.
After that, they received a force-protection brief along with other information about Camp Buehring and life in the combat zone. The Soldiers were then sent to the dining facility for a hot meal and afterward were taken to their tents.
The staging phase involves such things as ensuring Soldiers and their equipment, such as vehicles, are ready for the movement into Iraq. Some of this includes making sure final paperwork is done and that DSTB Soldiers can get pieces of protective equipment that they may have not been issued to them in the states.
Within the training phase of their stay in Kuwait, the Soldiers take classes on such topics as fratricide prevention, Improvised Explosive Device awareness and go to a Close-Quarters Marksmanship (CQM) range. The CQM range involves techniques of firing weapons while moving and also close-quarter team drills. The close quarter marksmanship training is different from weapons testing that Soldiers received at Ft. Hood, which involves 300-meter to 500-meter, pop-up targets or paper targets. The CQM range actually makes the training mimic the fight and gives them a realistic feel for the way they would most likely fight in Iraq.
During their downtime on Camp Buehring, while awaiting their day to fly to Iraq, the DSTB Soldiers have the opportunity to visit the camp's Morale Welfare and Recreation Center, the United Services Organization, watch movies at the camp theater, or they can take advantage of three dining facilities, three post exchanges, a gym, several fast food restaurants and a free laundry facility.
The onward movement phase, which is the last part of the process, involves the
actual movement of DSTB Soldiers and their equipment from Camp Buehring to
Iraq. Equipment containers and vehicles are offloaded from ships at Kuwaiti
ports, and then taken to Iraq whereas Soldiers board flights from Camp
Buehring. All of the DSTB's troops will be in Iraq by early February.
The ceremony honored the multitude of accomplishments, successes and sacrifices of the 4th Infantry "Ironhorse" Division during their past fifteen months in Baghdad and looked forward to the continuation of progress by "America's First Team". This was the third time both of these Ft. Hood, TX based units have transferred control of MND-B to one another and the first TOA between two major commands since the US and Iraqi forces completed the implementation of the Security Agreement that went into effect 01 January, 2009, outlining how US troops are to leave major cities by June, 2009 and the country of Iraq as a whole by the end of 2011. Five Forward Operating Bases located in Baghdad are scheduled to close well ahead of the 30 June deadline to withdraw from Iraq's cities. However, as evidenced by this TOA, these dates may not be set in stone.
Lt. General Lloyd Austin III, commanding general, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, presided over the ceremony. The security of Iraq has been greatly improved thanks to the incredible efforts of the 4th Infantry Division. under the superb leadership of Major General Jeffery Hammond. Over the past 12 months, citizens of Baghdad and the surrounding area have seen an 80 percent decrease in attacks against local civilians, as the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) become more capable of maintaining law and order.
The relentless pursuit of the enemy resulted in the seizure of more than 2,300 weapons caches and the capture of more than 3,000 enemy leaders, facilitators and operators. Markets, shops and schools opened; extensive projects started to clean and restore canals and pump stations necessary for irrigating farmlands and micro-grant programs created over 7,000 Iraqi jobs.
Hammond then thanked the Iraqi Army Soldiers and the ISF for their recognition of responsibility, accomplishments and improvements that have brought them to the forefront in the security of Iraq. Since taking command of MND-B in December of 2007, the 4th Infantry Division Soldiers witnessed a doubling of their operational area and a reduction of Coalition combat power from 44 combat battalions to 21.
On 11 February, Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Multi-National Division-Baghdad formally partnered with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in the Adhamiyah district of eastern Baghdad to conduct a transition ceremony at Forward Operating Base War Eagle. The "Black Knights", currently attached to the 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, based out of Ft. Bragg, NC, replaced the 1st Bn., 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, 4th Infantry Division. who had completed their 14-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Ft. Hood, Texas- based Soldiers of the 1st Bn., 5th Cav. Regiment. will partner with Iraqi Army soldiers assigned to the 3rd Bn. 45th Brigade, 11th IA Division in the safeguarding of the Adhamiyah district and its residents. The deployment of the 1st Bn, 5th Cavalry. Regiment. comes on the heels of the ISF officially taking over the security, of Iraq and the recent success of the Provincial Elections. The Iraqi government is set to hold national elections; scheduled for later in the year.
On 14 February, Iraqi troops operating in western Mosul under the command of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, uncovered a large weapons cache. Iraqi soldiers were credited with finding the cache in a basement. The Iraqi unit was conducting a cordon-and-search operation in the Al Sina'a neighborhood, prompted by an incident in which a bomb-maker blew himself up several weeks before.
A tip from local Iraqis led to the cache. The weapons and explosives were cataloged by an American explosive ordnance disposal team, with Iraqi security forces tasked with disposing of the materials. Items found included:
The training programs provided by the "Black Dragons" at Camp Dhi Qar and the Besmaya Range Complex, which is where all IA Division units do their final training before being considered ready to conduct operations in southern Iraq, helped lay the foundation for an effective partnership between the "Black Dragons" and IA Division units. The training involved vehicle and foot patrols, searching vehicles and personnel at checkpoints coupled with small-arms qualification.
By enabling the Iraqi troops to take the lead during joint patrols, the IA Division Soldiers became better prepared to interdict and help in the continued steady decline of violence in the Maysan Province. The Black Dragons look forward to continued joint training and patrols with their new Iraqi partners, which will lead to the reduction of the amount of indirect fire focused on FOB Hunter.
On 02 March, the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, was tasked to assume responsibility of battle space near the operating base of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hunter, Iraq, build a new home and move in - all at the same time. In movements beginning at their initial deployment in June 2008, the unit had Soldiers spread out from northern Baghdad to southern Iraq with missions ranging from counter-fire to maintaining a military presence in a joint-defense-operations center.
After providing base security just north of Baghdad, then training a new Iraqi
Army brigade in southern Iraq, the 'Black Dragons' of the 4th Brigade Combat
Team, 1st Cavalry Division, were once again on the move. With FOB Hunter
nearing its maximum capacity, the Black Dragon Soldiers worked to expand the
base to house their unit. Meanwhile, the battalion continued its partnership
with its Iraqi artillery counterparts, the 41st Brigade, 10th Iraqi Army
Division in protecting the Iraqi people of Maysan. The Black Dragons are
scheduled to complete their deployment by late summer, but for now they're
lighting up the Iraqi sky with illumination rounds and ready to make a
positive impact in Maysan.
Located on Contingency Operating Base Adder near Nasiriyah, the 26th Infantry
Battalion will conduct missions in the Dhi Qar province working with the 4th
"Long Knife", BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. The 26th Infantry Battalion will
conduct missions, including convoy and key infrastructure security. similar to
those performed by the 341st Infantry Battalion.
Security conditions continue to improve within the Rashid district and the assumption of authority transfer demonstrates the steady progress of the area and the commitment of MND-B to provide security for the Iraqi people. The two units have conducted side-by-side operations over the past week with the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment showing the "Iron Knights" the new area and preparing them to conduct full spectrum operations in the neighborhoods of West Rashid along with their Iraqi Security Force partners.
Soldiers of Task Force 1-35 Armor already assisted the citizens of Mada'in
Qada to reestablish them as the "breadbasket" of the Baghdad province and are
ready for any challenges they'll meet in the coming months.Task Force
"Regulars", with the help of the Iraqi National Police, have made amazing
progress in Rashid and are well prepared to support community actions in the
As the US pushes an offensive that commanders say could be the last big battle of the war if successful or deal a body blow to Iraq's fragile democracy. If it fails they are contending with determined fighters and a populace that overwhelmingly wants the US to leave immediately.
While violence has dropped dramatically in most of the country, Mosul is seen by many as the last urban stronghold of the insurgency. The US is in the midst of OPERATION Ninevah Resolve, a months-long, house-to-house effort aimed at beating back the Mosul insurgency for good by June 30, the deadline under the US-Iraqi security pact for troops to pull back from Iraqi cities and towns.
Economic and civil improvements for Mosul, where unemployment runs as high as 80 percent, are components of the operation, but the focus now is security. Failure could be disastrous, "It could stunt the growth of the entire nation," local commanders say.
The US Commanders often talk of gaining public backing as critical to counterinsurgency operations. But it appears the soldiers fighting for Mosul are going into battle without the support of the people. As example, in interviews across the city, there was near unanimous agreement that the Americans should go. Many residents want only Iraqis to handle security, to show respect for the country's sovereignty. And some say the US presence actually makes the city more dangerous by offering more targets for bombers. Even some in the Iraqi military want the Americans gone.
The buzz of the Saddam old neighborhood's open-air fruit market lurched into
silence when a group of American and Iraqi soldiers walked in during a recent
patrol. All eyes were on the unwelcome visitors, whom the vendors blame for
forcing them to move from the neighborhood's main shopping district.
Amid this hostile landscape, US and Iraqi forces are working side by side, sharing sensitive tips and surveillance to rid the city of militants. While US troops are still routinely targeted, Iraqi forces, who often lack sophisticated armor and weaponry, are now feeling the brunt of the bombs and the bullets. As part of the push, the Iraqi army is setting up outposts, many no more than a tent surrounded by sand-filled barriers, in troubled neighborhoods as thousands of Iraqi soldiers and National Police officers swarm the streets of Mosul daily.
Americans at least check in with Iraqis before conducting patrols, which are
normally a joint effort these days. As is the case in much of the country,
though, "Iraqi-led" operations in Mosul often mean an Iraqi physically in the
lead but taking cues from US troops. Commanders are confident the operation
will tame Mosul by the end of June. If not, the burden on an already fragile
Iraqi government, still struggling to provide even basic services to its
people, could be crippling.
On the second day, Soldiers get beyond the classroom to specialized training that emphasizes skill development. They practice tactics, techniques and procedures such as tactical questioning, cross-talking, cache characteristics, establishing a command point and cordoning off the search area. Instructors constantly encourage teamwork among Soldiers while conducting searches.
On the last day of class, Soldiers got the chance to run a complete operation that consists of clearing and searching a building, a vehicle, and a rural area. The instructors keep the training as realistic as possible and they don't make the caches too obvious for Soldiers to find, such as using the roof for one of the caches.
The classes are open for all Soldiers, in order to better guide fellow
Coalition forces and Iraqi Security Forces personnel on their mission to
creating a safer Iraq. Troopers are ready to run cache IED search battle
drills and to integrate these skills into their daily missions outside the
wire. It is a "train the trainer class", so Soldiers are encouraged to take
the knowledge gained and be proactive in their units.
During their extended training, the crew of the new trucks learned how to handle the significantly larger vehicle, perform proper maintenance and adapt the differences between the MRAP and the Humvee. The PSD leadership placed the Soldiers in their respective positions and trained them on the vehicles to instill a certain level of confidence in their handling of the new trucks for their first mission.
After approximately a week of training on the MRAPs, a combination of two of
the PSD sections pushed out of Camp Taji, Iraq to Camp War Eagle. During the
convoy, the drivers adapted to the situation, the gunners did their job by
picking up their respective sectors, The PSD, now having taken their trucks on
the streets of their operating environment, continue to train in order to
perfect and sustain the standards.
The average patrol starts 24 hours before departing. The Troopers load their flat-bed vehicles, water tankers and fuel trucks with supplies available for transport. When the loading is completed they conduct pre-combat checks and rehearse every phase of the operation. Once rehearsals are complete, the unit requires at least eight hours of rest to ensure they are fully prepared for the long mission ahead.
In traveling along the dusty roads of southern Iraq, along the Iranian border,
the Soldiers pass through many rural towns and villages. During each phase of
the convoy, the Head Hunters rely on their discipline and training to be
considerate of the Iraqi citizens of Maysan Province. Each time the brave
soldiers of the distribution and maintenance platoons take to the road in
support of the Squadron, they risk their lives while improving the lives of
the people of Iraq.
During the three-day training event in the desert ranges of Kuwait, the troops
learned the basic skills they'll use as personal security team members in
Iraq. Troops learned how to screen vehicles when driving, successfully engage
a target while moving and clear a house in order to keep the principal safe.
Through all the scenarios, the team leaders communicated the appropriate
action to their Soldiers. The MP platoon members trained and prepared for a
variety of security, escort and protection missions to provide variations of
whatever mission support is needed.
The Osprey incorporates a design that takes advantage of proven technology in the General Electric triple redundant, digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System and the articulated Rolls-Royce Propulsion System integrated into the advanced survivability and crashworthiness of composite materials used in the airframe. The tilt rotor propulsion system combines the speed, range and fuel efficiency normally that is associated with typical turboprop aircrafts with the short field take-off/landing and hover capabilities of helicopters. The tilt-rotor aircraft represents a major technological breakthrough in aviation evolution that meets long standing military needs of 1) extended searches over the rugged terrain features of the battlefield, 2) identification along with simultaneous attack and 3) destruction of the target.
To improve the Osprey's counter offensive capability during hovering and landing maneuvers, consideration is being made to complement the rear machine gun that Ospreys now have with a remote controlled 7.62 mm minigun with a 360 degree field of fire beneath the aircraft.
On 21 March, Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and Iraqi troops were involved in the seizure of large weapons caches in and around Baghdad, an indication that insurgents continue to smuggle weapons amid wide security gains in the country. In one incident, Iraqi police, Army and SWAT officials detained three people and seized 255 grenades, 23 fuses, two cases of AK-47 ammunition and 1,000 rounds of armor-piercing ammunition from a farm in Maysan province.
In a second operation, in eastern Baghdad, US troops and Iraqi National
Police (NP) seized a large number of rockets and other weapons. The raid came
as a follow up on information provided by a local resident from the 9 Nissan
district of the capital. Iraqis with the 2nd Battalion, 8th NP Brigade, 2nd
NP Division, working with US troops from the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute
Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, uncovered three additional weapon
caches. Among the weapons found were 29 Katushya rockets, more than 620 mortar
rounds of varying sizes, 15 anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 44
Rocket Propelled Grenade rounds and large quantities of explosives and
Local Sheikhs, Iraqi National Police officers, Iraqi soldiers, and other Iraqi dignitaries, with whom the Ironhorse Brigade will closely work with in the coming months, attended the ceremony. Brigade leaders plan to work by, with and through the Iraqis to facilitate a safer environment for the people of Iraq and together they will provide for the safety of the people of Baghdad and ensure a prosperous future for Iraq.
On 25 March, the initial results of a new counter-insurgency approach launched in the town of Al-Hadr, Iraq by the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment was reported. The new tactic takes on local problems directly rather than simply throwing money at them. The change of tactics is aimed at consolidating security gains in a province where remnants of Al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups have yet to be subdued despite six years of US military engagement.
The base camp of the regiment lies close to the site of ancient Hatra, a UNESCO world heritage site located in an area surrounded by the northwestern desert of Iraq that was once the hub of a major trading network across the desert between the Mediterranean and what is now Iraq. The area is also rife with a whole raft of socio-economic challenges that could rapidly turn the clock back. The town's sedentary population of 7,000 people has been swollen by dozens of Bedouin families driven in from their usual nomadic existence in the desert by a lack of water or pasture for their flocks and herds.
A couple of large tribes dominate local politics in Al-Hadr, leaving their smaller rivals vulnerable to manipulation by insurgents. Team elements of the Battalion visit the town several times a week to meet with officials and accept applications for grants of up to $2,500-dollars from a micro-grant assistance program for small businesses. Local residents pepper them with questions, many believing that the US army is still handing out money without any strings attached, as it did in the past.
Shoring up popular support for the new Iraq is key. The Iraq and US
governments realize that it could go either way at any point. It's a fight for
the will of the people - to legitimize and support the government of Iraq and
Iraqi security forces. The men of 1st Battalion have not fired a shot since
their arrival in the town of Al-Hadr nearly four months ago. Attacks are down
to about two a week compared to 20 this time last year.
The platoon initially moved a section of troops to Garry Owen in September to
support the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment soldiers with long-range UAV
coverage in the city of Al Amarah. In early October, the 21-man platoon was
on the move again to Forward Operating Base Hunter located in southern Maysan
Province. The 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment soldiers worked closely with
the UAS platoon, while the soldiers provided aerial coverage for the entire
Taking weapons off the streets has more value to security than just keeping them out of insurgent hands. In the past, family feuds had spilled onto the streets which sometimes involved shooting. The search yielded promising leads and positive results at a few locations. In addition to finding results during search operations, the patrols conducted by "C" Company and the Iraqi Soldiers have had resulted in positive effects of security on the community.
Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, most of whom are tankers by trade, have largely abandoned their tanks in favor of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles and their feet to get them where they need to go. For the troops of "C" Company, the missions in Sadr City may not be what they are normally accustomed to, but they take to it with determination and excellence.
The sun had already set as "C" Company troops returned to Joint Security
Station Comanche, their home away from home in the Iraqi urban jungle. They
are sweaty and they are tired but they have accomplished their mission for the
day. Now they will get some sleep and prepare for the next opportunity to keep
their sector safe.
One of the weakest links in the outskirts of Baghdad is the farmlands and the canals where a lot of weapons can be smuggled in. A three-foot wide pipe spans the murky water connecting the steep banks of a canal that divides the northern areas that has lush green fields of crops from the south side where children peer from behind the doorways of disheveled homes. Each day the children work with their parents by carrying harvested crops on their backs, trudging across the pipe that bridges the canal.
Stopping the flow of IED materials, weapons and other contraband into the center of Baghdad from places like Shaab, on the outskirts of the city, is a difficult task. In their patrols, they have located possible smuggling points and has increased security on the canals in its area of operation during Operation Magnon al-Wombet. By providing disruption patrols, the terrorists or insurgents observe the operations and will think twice about bringing weapons into the area.
In one of the few locations where locals can get from the north to the south. members of the "E' Troop, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment have to make sure the farmers are only transporting crops and not any Improvised Explosive Device materials and weapons through checkpoints. These checkpoints are external checkpoints on the outskirts that are established to control and search people. Managing thee checkpoints, the Soldiers can control the stability and climate of the center of Baghdad.
Even though many of the Iraqi farmers have toiled all day in the fields just north of the canal, they do not mind being stopped on their way back home. But crops are not the only things that can be transported across such slippery pipes. These operations are vital to the security of Baghdad and play an active role in seizing weapons headed toward the heart of the city.
The Iraqi population sees the operation around the Check Points giving them a more secure and more comforted living environment. It provides a cumulative effect of things getting better for the Coalition forces, but perhaps more important, it is getting better for the Iraqi Security Forces as well. The few minutes it takes to thoroughly search the heaping bags of freshly reaped wheat will safeguard the neighborhood of Shaab. Operations like Magnon al-Wombet secure the smaller neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city directly impacting the overall security of Baghdad.
Also, on 23 April, at Contingency Operating Base, Adder, near Nasiriyah, Iraq, it was announced that the 4th Brigade Combat Team, will begin returning to Ft. Hood next month after its year-long tour in Iraq. The 4th BCT has been operating in southern Iraq in three provinces: Dhi Qar, Muthanna and Maysan. They have partnered with Iraqi Security Forces to improve security and support civil developments of the region.
The brigade was originally scheduled to return in September, but with the improved security conditions in the area of operations controlled by the brigade has allowed Army leaders to redeploy the brigade at the end of the one-year mark. Flights carrying the main group of the brigade are scheduled to arrive at Ft. Hood during the latter part of May, with the entire unit scheduled to return by mid-June.
Key training sessions for comprehensive safety and reintegration program
started in Iraq will be continued after the unit returns home to ensure a
seamless transition. The sessions will address the usual concerns voiced by
Soldiers after returning from a combat tour, such as redeployment, leave, and
healthcare to prepare the troopers to adjust to life back at home. The brigade
will host a ceremony to uncase its colors at the end of the normal block leave
in late July.
The 515th Sapper Company was transferred to their current location on Camp Liberty to replace the 4th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineering Brigade, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, who recently transferred combat theaters from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Starting in Balad, for a month, they then went to Adar near Tallil for four
and a half months. Next came Striker then Kalsu....and now they are now in
Baghdad. During their long journey transitioning from base to base, living
conditions may have changed, food may have been a little different at the
dining facilities, but one thing did not change, the mission - which was
simple - hunt down explosive devices planted along the roadside and get rid of
them, making it safe for travel once again. No matter what base they happen to
be stationed at when they depart for a mission, or what stretch of road they
traveled that day, their presence increases safety for drivers on Iraq's
Heavy cranes and vehicles moved aircraft from transport vessels to the dock areas where the 1st ACB noncommissioned officers led their team assembling aircraft for flight after their long journey on the sea. With all this seemingly choreographed commotion, it would not be obvious that there were five different units that worked at the port - just one big team.
The Soldiers moved more than 60 aircraft from the transports, reassembled, inspected and flew them to Camp Buehring, all in about 72 hours - an amazing feat of ability and speed. On top of that, not a single trooper was injured and not one aircraft damaged in the process. In as much as Soldiers don't normally work in the ever-changing environment of the sea port, so it was important that they worked as a team in a very methodical and deliberate manner.
To help with the team effort, but not necessarily turn wrenches, the 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade helped keep the logistical side of the operation, such as food, shelter and manning, moving so that the Soldiers working didn't have to worry about anything else but the aircraft in front of them.
At the end of the day, it was the Soldiers on the docks, turning the wrenches,
who were the true heroes enabling all of the aircraft of the "Warrior" Brigade
to be "on station" at Camp Buehring and allowing the Brigade to gear up for
their 12-month deployment in Iraq.
With the crew chiefs giving information about the conditions on the outside
of the aircraft, the pilots still need to monitor what is happening on the
inside. Some of the more experienced pilots can just glance at their
instruments and do most of the flying with just visual just because they have
done the maneuver so many times. The crew chiefs and pilots are definitely
confident after doing the training here because these conditions are worse
The Dhi Qar Provincial Reconstruction Team and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, assisted the Iraqi security forces and the Antiquities in Nasiryah, to plan the event, which included various government officials and military leaders throughout central and southern Iraq.
Coalition forces have had control of the structure since 2003. They turned it
over to Iraqis in a ceremony attended by government and military leaders at
Contingency Operating Base Adder. The transfer is one of the final acts of
partnership between Iraqi forces and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, who has
already began their rotation home, returning to Ft. Hood, TX.
At the core of any combat arms Soldier lays discipline, fighting instincts and the distinct ability to put lead on target. The Advanced Close Quarters Marksmanship course lays a foundation to ingrain these attributes into their minds. The combat arms Soldiers who comprise "F" Company, will spend multiple days learning advanced techniques from civilian contractors with Special Operations backgrounds. The training encompasses multiple phases culminating with a final assault on a two story complex.
The Soldiers run through drills for proper use of barriers, minimum body exposure, muzzle exposure and team movement. Soldiers who are in combat arms fields go through these fundamentals after basic training and at the unit level but honing in their skills makes it second nature. The skills obtained here should not be taken lightly.
There is no lack of enthusiasm when it comes down to training and doing their job. Dedication and focus to the task at hand equips them with the discipline and fighting spirit to lead successful missions. When training is completed, the Soldiers they will be ready for an air assault mission. It will become first nature for these Soldiers to react to enemies on contact.
All members of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, regardless of grade, must complete
their respective training assignments before undertaking their flight into
Iraq, where their first mission is to initiate a successful "relief-in-place"
with the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Completing that task,
the Brigade can look forward to moving out on an aggressive air/ground
integration(s) with the other Brigade Combat Teams within the Multi-National
Division - Baghdad.
Coalition Forces operate hand-in-hand with the Government of Iraq (GOI) and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). All missions are conducted as joint efforts between Coalition Forces and the ISF. Joint patrols are an everyday routine as the "Warriors" and the ISF meet before every patrol to discuss proper tactics and techniques to be employed during tactical operations. The meetings also provide the Coalition Forces and ISF the opportunity to discuss goals for the patrol, recent activity in the area, and tips provided by people of the community.
During the patrol, joint forces walked through the community of Hamandiyah and talked with citizens, inquiring about possible suspicious behavior of any individuals of the community. The IA also elected to visit a neighborhood home in an effort to obtain information on possible extremist activity in the area. Most patrols are routine, designed to show a presence and ensure the security of the community. The IA often follows-up on information provided by citizens and focuses on building friendships and bolstering community support.
Before officially and completely handing everything over to the Iraqi Security
Forces, this final transition phase of the security agreement is crucial. The
steps taken right now, ensures that ISF will have all the training they need
and will set the Coalition Forces counterparts of Iraq up for success in the
future, when the control of the areas is completely up to them.
Also on 18 May, two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the 3rd Assault Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Combat Brigade arrived, making its final approach, at the airfield of Camp Taji after making the journey from Camp Buehring, Kuwait where they spent the last several weeks undergoing final preparations and environmental training for their deployment in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM - VI.
The aircraft, the first to arrive from Camp Buehring, was part of a 227th Aviation Regiment formation, including "B" Company. 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade will be spending the next year in Iraq conducting aviation support operations in support of Multi National Division - Baghdad Soldiers.
On 20 May, two days later and under cover of night, the main body of soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade began to arrive - unloading from a CH-47F Chinock helicopter for their one year deployment for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
On 28 May, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National
Division Baghdad has completed settling into their quarters at Camp Taji, but
before the Transfer of Authority between the incoming and outgoing units takes
place, there is a short time period during which tactical information and
lessons learned are exchanged. This time period is known as Relief In Place,
In addition to sharing information, the 4th CAB will transfer aircraft to the 1st ACB during the RIP. It is important for the technical inspectors from each unit to work together to get the aircraft transferred. Technical inspectors ensure the quality of work being done on the aircraft and are custodians of the extensive paperwork that shows the airworthiness of the helicopters. For the 1st ACB, it is important to get a good idea of problems that could arise with the aircraft.
Identification of any deficiencies with the aircraft and getting them repaired
before the aircraft transfer is important. The aircraft are in good condition
for the hours they have flown and the type missions conducted. With the
tenacity to do their jobs, the Soldiers of the 1st ACB, began their
inspections and are just waiting for a chance to conduct air operations.
The TOA process included transferring property, familiarizing themselves with the area and conducting key leader engagements with prominent local Iraqis. The squadron recognizes FOB Hunter as their home for the next year and as such the Soldiers have made strides to improve the living standards. Under the new command, further improvements are scheduled in order to increase Soldiers' morale and welfare to include the construction of a new dining facility, replacement of aging air conditioning systems and the establishment of reliable personal wireless internet. Despite the excitement of their imminent return home to Ft. Hood, the outgoing Soldiers made every effort to facilitate the reception of 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment "Sabers" to FOB Hunter.
The completion of this transfer sets the foundation for a year-long Saber deployment to continue efforts in advising and supporting the Iraqi security forces and the Government of Iraq.
On 31 May, US troops and Iraqi police detained 44 suspected insurgents earlier this week in the flash-point Iraqi city of Kirkuk. The operation was the largest in the city since February and targeted people suspected of crimes ranging from "high-profile terrorist attacks" to extortion, kidnapping and drugs sales.
Multiethnic Kirkuk, approximately 150 miles north of Baghdad, has long been a source for concern. Its fate as either part of Iraq proper or the autonomous Kurdish region - to be determined in a vote that is continually delayed, is one of the "storm clouds on the horizon" cited by US officials. Kirkuk was not included in Iraq's January provincial elections because of the tensions. Indeed, the Iraqi government said this week it would delay even a government-commissioned report on how to stage the Kirkuk provincial elections in the future. Commission members could not resolve disputes between the Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab factions.
That failure echoes the ethnic split in Kirkuk, with a population of nearly
900,000 and a large proportion of Iraq’s oil reserves. In recent weeks,
suicide bombings have killed more than a dozen people in Kirkuk. In one
attack, Sunni "Sons of Iraq" members were killed by a suicide bomber who
attacked when the men were waiting for their monthly payment. Police officials
indicated then that the attack was an attempt to reignite sectarian tensions
in the city. The raids in the Aruba district of Kirkuk that led to 44 people
being detained was conducted by troops of the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field
Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, along with Iraqi police from the
He has rarely been seen since an abortive attempt to arrest him in November. But this shadowy figure and the ex-militiamen loyal to him hold the key to protecting one of Baghdad’s most important religious symbols and, perhaps, the fragile sectarian peace holding across the country.
Peeling back the dizzying layers of security around the Khadamiyah neighborhood of north Baghdad and its revered mosque, finds US troops on the periphery, with saturation levels of Iraqi soldiers and national police manning checkpoints every few blocks. There is also a sprinkling of local police, whom neither the army, Iraqi National Police, nor many US troops trust.
Before entering the massive golden-domed shrine, visitors meet a group of former militiamen, now in police uniforms. Inside the main gates is a no-go zone for Iraqi and US soldiers. The mosque grounds are protected by members of the "Shrine Battalion," a group of about 750 former fighters from the Mahdi Army, a group loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that once fought fierce battles with US and Iraqi forces.
On a recent patrol, an American sergeant first class chatted amiably with the shrine guards, but local American and Iraqi commanders are skeptical, to say the least, that the guards have been reformed. For their part, the shrine guards say they are simply trying to protect the holy site, which has not been attacked, unlike a similar site in Samarra that was bombed in 2006, helping to spark Iraq’s brutal sectarian battles. Of Abadi, who is wanted on terrorism charges, they say they look up to him and would not stand for his arrest.
Indeed, in November, an elite Iraqi special forces unit attempted to arrest Abadi at his home near the shrine. Shrine guards came to his defense and ended up in a shootout with the soldiers. No one was killed in the melee, but Abadi escaped and now keeps a low profile, though he still clearly has great influence over his men.
All of this intrigue and rivalry requires US forces in the area to tread
gingerly. For the most part, they stay in the background. Lying at the heart
of this disjointed security apparatus, of course, is the shrine - a sacred
monument that is expected to draw upwards of 10 million Shiite pilgrims for
several days in mid-July to commemorate the death of Imam Musa ibn Jafar
al-Kadhim, who is buried there. The stakes for keeping the disparate factions
working together are enormous. One well-placed bomb at the mosque could send
this fragile country back to its dark days of bloody sectarian conflict.
The transfer serves as point of inspiration because it exemplified the professionalism and dedication of all these aviation officers. who has been bought together to replace the mission function. The war in Iraq is not over and the environment is still dangerous and the 1st ACB still faces insurgent threats.
The 1st ACB will deliberately and aggressively use responsive attack weapons
teams, precision air assaults, medical evacuation support and timely movement
of Soldiers and supplies in theater, while proudly displaying the 1st Cavalry
Division patch on its aircraft. The aviation brigade is the strongest asset of
the Division and the biggest overmatch against the enemy. The enemy will never
have the attack, assault and surveillance capabilities of the 1st Air Cavalry
The Iraq rescue occurred as Soldiers from the 591st MP Company, 93rd Military Police Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, received the initial 2-8 Cavalry Regiment distress call at al-Awad Police Station. A Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle had rolled over into a ravine less than three miles away. Once they were close enough to receive a radio transmission from the 2-8 Cavalry Regiment, the Spartans were informed they could only reach the vehicle by foot. Faced with only two options - swim across a canal or run a quarter mile to the vehicle - they ran.
When the Spartans arrived, they had their vehicles pull security on the outer perimeter of the field to provide 360 degrees of security around the landing zone for the 1st ACB UH-60 helicopters to land. The rest of the Spartans jumped into the ravine to pull security near the MRAP. The injured Soldiers were successfully evacuated because "B" Troop and the 591st MP Company adhered to the principles of the Soldier's Creed:
On 04 June, the US and Iraqi militaries have tentatively agreed to keep a joint base on the edge of Baghdad's Shiite slum of Sadr City, maintaining an American presence in a strategic area even after the 30 June deadline for US combat troops to pull out.
The base, Joint Security Station Comanche, is one of about 14 joint facilities
that US officials say privately that they would like to keep in flashpoint
neighborhoods after the deadline. The plan to maintain a few joint bases
reflects an attempt to meet the overall goal of the withdrawal plan without
giving Shiite and Sunni extremists an opportunity to regain a foothold in
parts of the city as the Iraqis assume more responsibility.
Soldiers assigned to the 4th BCT "Highlanders", 1st Armored Division from Ft. Bliss, TX unfurled their colors in the Memorial Hall, sending the last of the Long Knife Soldiers home and ending their year-long tour in the southern tri-province area of Maysan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna, Iraq.
In parallel, it was an historic day on COB Adder as the Romanian contingent in Iraq held an end-of-mission ceremony earlier in the day to mark that nation's end to its participation in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
The Long Knife Brigade has laid a firm foundation of security and opportunity for the people of southern Iraq. The sacrifices of the troopers and their families gave this part of Iraq an unprecedented atmosphere of hope, success and optimism. During the yearlong deployment, the Long Knives trained the Iraqi police, army and border patrols to facilitate those units to assume sole responsibility for the security of the people in Muthanna, Dhi Qar and Maysan provinces.
The brigade also enabled the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in each province
to improve the government and economic development throughout southern Iraq.
After block leave, the Brigade will uncase its colors 23 July at Cooper Field
to mark its official return to Ft. Hood, TX.
Coalition and ISF Soldiers understand these transfers are a major step in ensuring the legitimacy of the Iraqi government and ISF. Soldiers with experience in the area understand there might be difficulties after the handoff. The transfer of JSS Basateen, along with the Coalition’s assurance to operate from outside the city limits, demonstrates the US commitment to the Security Agreement. The JSS Basateen transfer ceremony represents the transfer of all joint security stations in the Sha'ab area.
Coalition forces will continue to partner with the ISF from outside the city
limits, thus continuing their relationship with and training of the Iraqis.
The partnership will ultimately ensure the safety and security of the citizens
living in northeast Baghdad.
As the 30 June deadline nears for scaling back US troops from the cities, American commanders are pushing Iraqi forces to take the lead on security. The trust and success rates between US and Iraqi units still vary widely throughout the country. In Istaqlil, the American soldiers and National Police have forged a comfortable working relationship that seems to work. In the past four months, the partnership has bolstered the Iraqis military abilities while helping the Americans catch some of the terrorists who have tried to kill them in recent weeks.
Now, when National Police troops are over for training or meetings, they are invited to stay and eat. When other units drive to the base, the Americans put fuel in their cars. Costanza still posts guards at the gate, but National Police officers come on base in the day and the evening routinely, without formal invitations.
That night, the National Police troops went to the headquarters office for "B" Troop, the soldiers who would accompany him the next day. They laid out maps made for him and talked through the operation. The goal was to search houses and empty lots on the north part of the city, through a cemetery further north, and into some less densely populated farmlands out from town.
A search at daybreak, with a bomb-sniffing dog, some helicopters in the air for protection and a small US unit on the ground were all reasonable requests. Hussainiyah remains a dangerous place. In the past month, three EFPs in the city have hit the squadron, wounding two soldiers seriously. The squadron found eight roadside bombs before they exploded. In the past two weeks, because of a good local tip, they figured out the structure of a local terrorist cell and arrested some of its top leaders.
On the next day, Tuesday, the Iraqis and the Americans showed up at the agreed meeting place on time, right at daybreak. The raid began at 0600 hours, a slow walk along homes surrounded by trash and open sewage. The National Police knocked on doors and woke people up. The Americans watched. One man wanted to see if an American could help his family by shooting a snake that had been living in the ceiling. The soldier shook his head, no.
Finally, at about 0700 hours, the Americans had to call it quits because they
had a truck with a bad radiator. As they drove back to base, the Iraqi
National Police were still going door to door.
The insurgents survey the streets of Rusafa, a relatively clean, quiet and well-to-do part of eastern Baghdad. They look for an open space about half the size of a soccer field. They sneak in at night - maybe by car, maybe by donkey cart. The calculations for their target, the Green Zone on the other side of the Tigris River, are ready. They need a minute or so to place the launcher and start the 15-minute timer. Then, they run.
About a month ago, another hit inside the massive government and military complex in Baghdad. It killed one person, according to officers with the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment with the 1st Cavalry Division. It is the job of the "C" Company to go after the people launching the attacks. The soldiers, who are tankers by training, have dubbed the collective enemy "rocket man."
An operation, called VIGILANT GUARD, was started more than a month ago, and now they patrol with at least one Iraqi army unit in tow. Their tactic is simple: Be in sector when most of the attacks happen, and talk to neighbors to see if they have seen any suspicious activity.
The job, however, is hard. While residents and shop owners are friendly, offering refreshments and cigarettes to the soldiers who come by, most are too frightened to report suspicious activity. Most say their neighborhood is safe. The mission remains dangerous. On 04 June, one of "C" Company's platoons was hit with an EFP, or explosively formed penetrator, a sophisticated roadside bomb that can rip through armor. They were driving on a narrow neighborhood street, between large houses built for former Iraqi government officials under Saddam Hussein. The bomb hit the lead truck of the convoy and did minor damage.
Their mission will continue after the 30 June deadline, by which US forces
will largely pull back from Iraqi cities. But US troops will go out only if
they have equal numbers of Iraqi soldiers and vehicles in the patrol. They
hope that soon the Iraqis will begin leading the mission.
The base was both a key staging ground for the fight and a target in 2007 and early 2008 before al-Sadr called for a cease-fire. Since then, the Americans have built a wall separating the larger northern part of the city and turned over security enforcement to Iraqi military officials. During the fight, 136 US troops and 184 Iraqi security forces members were killed or wounded.
The US Army is trying to funnel reconstruction money into the city, even though it is prohibited from entering most of it. In recent weeks, even as the Americans made plans to move, civil affairs officers and State Department officials have been meeting with representatives from the closed part of thecity.
The US still has two bases in the Sadr City area. Its portion of JSS Comanche
will close this week. JSS Ur, in the city's northeast corner, will remain
open. Inside Sadr City, and around Baghdad, Iraqi troops are ready to take
over, but US troops would come back into the city to respond to violence if
requested by the Iraqi government.
And don't forget the 2,900 soldiers who, as part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, moved in and around Baghdad in recent weeks to comply with Tuesday's deadline to pull back US combat troops from the cities of Iraq. Now try to do it all in a couple months. That is the situation faced by the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, which is completing the brigade's move out of nine joint security stations in eastern Baghdad.
The battalion began planning for the moves in January when it arrived at Camp Taji, a massive US and Iraqi base northwest of Baghdad. As the support battalion moved in, it left enough space for the tracked vehicles and soldiers who would arrive from Iraq's capital in early summer. In addition to the cargo moves, battalion's regular food and supply runs to the bases throughout the area. To help, the battalion signed about $500,000 worth of contracts with Iraqi movers.
The brigade left some of its equipment, like air conditioners and generators, for the Iraqi security forces who remain at some of the bases. The rest is being recycled. Some of the living trailers went to other rural bases in the brigade’s area, east of the Tigris River, to house some of the moving soldiers.
The bulk of the brigade's tracked vehicles and many of its MRAPS now sit
covered in dust at Taji. The plan, for the short term, is to maintain the
vehicles and keep them in Iraq in case they are needed.
The American troops that stay in the cities will be there at the express invitation of the Iraqi military. Those service members will take the lead role in mentoring and teaching Iraqis. They will take a backseat on patrolling and missions. For the transition to work, American commanders say, it is time for the Americans to follow the Iraqis. US troops on the ground will have to let the Iraqi forces do things their way.
The security agreement calls for equal numbers of Iraqis and Americans on combat patrols, the bulk of the troops still trying to quash and catch the killers. US troops worry that some Iraqi units will not have the desire to patrol, especially for long spells in the summer heat.
The Americans are working to accept this. The US soldiers have adopted a name for it: "Inshallah time." (When God wills it, the work will begin.) They are also trying to build incentives.
At one time, there were 76 joint security stations in and around Baghdad, small shared bases in the city established as part of the 2007 surge. By Tuesday, the Americans will remain in about 10 stations. Only 1 to 2 percent of troops in the capital would be Americans. That ratio will fluctuate each day according to missions.
Some large bases like Camp Victory, while technically within Baghdad city
limits, will be considered as outside the city for purposes of the June 30
agreement. Still, most expect the number of combat patrols to decrease, at
least in the days following the transition.
On 25 June, the opportunity to view demonstrations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), was provided at Camp Taji Airfield. The Camp Taji airfield, just north of Baghdad, is the main launching pad for UAV's in and around Iraq's capital city, sending the aircraft to assist in missions [several] times a day. Flights are managed by "G" Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
Day and night the UAVs can be heard at the airfield - their distinctive hum akin to that of a lawnmower starting - as operations take place around the clock, supporting ground forces throughout the greater Baghdad area. These rumblings belong to unmanned aerial vehicles, remote controlled planes which help cut down the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and mortar attacks to convoys, through camera technology which helps detect enemy activity.
The process of launching a UAV and following its progress is much more complicated than people thin - with all the regular safety procedures of normal aviation being followed. There are checklists similar to those used for helicopters and all the maintainers. Mission commanders and pilots do inspections before a launch.
A UAV is a small plane with a 39 horsepower engine. Several missions a day are flown with the help of five units which are attached to second battalion. When the UAV is launched from Camp Taji, it normally flies into a different zone and other trained units takes over control of the mission to spot hazards and eliminate (Soldiers) going into that area.
During the missions the UAV's camera, named the 'payload,' can be used to look at things on the ground, which may include people planting IEDs or simply a building that can be monitored for suspicious activity. They can zoom in and The personnel at the airfield controlling the UAV by remote control. Surveillance and reconnaissance are the key words for the UAV mission at Camp Taji.
The sister unit then flies the UAV back into the Taji airspace where it is picked up by personnel at the airfield, who land the UAV, recover it and perform maintenance on it to prepare it for the next mission.
The RKG-3 is like a mini-EFP shaped charge on a stick that was developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War and now, copied and produced by numerous countries. They have been seen mostly in the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul Kirkuk, and in nearby Diyala province.
Some of these grenades are rumored to be coming in from Iran, but Iraq had
a large inventory in stock before the start of the war. It may be that former
members of the regime knew where to secure them, which might explain why they
are most commonly used by the Naqshbandi army, an insurgent force connected to
Saddam Hussein's former Vice President, Izzat al-Douri.
The Stryker, produced by General Dynamics Land Systems, comes in 10 variants. The infantry carrier variant can shuttle a full squad of seven Soldiers, in addition to a vehicle commander, driver and gunner. The vehicles feature fire-suppression systems and operators can adjust tire pressure to terrain. The 56th Brigade's units have tailored the air-conditioned passenger area of their vehicles to meet their needs. Baggage or bulky gear can be stowed on the roof or secured to the sides of the Stryker. Ice chests are typically found lashed to an inside shelf while additional cases of bottled water and foodstuffs are stored in various nooks and crannies. Padded bench seats add to the comfort factor.
Soldiers of one 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team unit also praise the
eight-wheeled, all-wheel-drive Stryker for its high-tech communications
package and its safety features, such as the armor package. Along with the
capability to offer the flexibility of being able to have more dismounts in a
concentrated vehicle platform, the vehicle offers more room than the humvee
and better mobility than the military's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected family
JSS Hotel was the first base of the day to be transferred. Officials presiding over the ceremony included the mayor of Mosul, the 3rd Federal Police Division commander, the Mosul Brigade commander, and US military leaders from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. After a few short speeches, Brooks and the Receivership Secretariat, Sameer Alhaddad, signed papers transferring the property to the Government of Iraq.
Immediately after the transfer ceremony at JSS Hotel, the Alhaddad went to JSS Castle, where the Gogjali District IP commander, Colonel Sheet Admeer, and Major Scott Carpenter, operations officer for 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, awaited his arrival. JSS Castle was home to the Gogjali District Iraqi Police Transition Team from the 351st Military Police Company, a Florida reserve unit. The 351st MP Co. is now moving to Forward Operating Base Sykes to focus on a new mission with the 6th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT.
The final transfer involved JSS Mountain, located in the neighborhood of Judaydat Al Mufti. Since January, Mountain has been used to conduct operations in east Mosul that involve the Iraqi Army and 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd BCT. US Soldiers living at JSS Mountain finished packing early in the morning, loading the last of Mountain’s belongings onto a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.
The US and Iraqi forces held a ceremony to mark the day that US Forces would handover Mountain to the Iraqi Security Forces. Major Fred West, 2-82 FA Regiment, executive officer, greeted Alhaddad as he entered JSS Mountain. West and Alhaddad discussed the future of the JSS. After Major West and Alhaddad officially signed over JSS Mountain to the Iraqis, the US Soldiers said their goodbyes to their Iraqi Army counterparts.
To date, 3rd BCT has closed or transferred seven joint security stations
within Mosul since 01 January. Three joint security stations continue to
operate in the city.
The Ironhorse Brigade established Joint Operations Centers (JOC) at various locations to link coalition representatives to their ISF counterparts. JOCs serve as a fusion of command and control, allowing easier communication to coordinate movements, request enabler support and training.
The fact that the ISF can be in the lead, so confident and capable today, is a testament to the effective partnership, training and equipping of the ISF to date. The Ironhorse Brigade units and transition teams stand ready to assist the Iraqis with enablers and other forms of support when they need it.
On 05 August it was reported that for the third time in this war, the 1st Cavalry Division has taken the fight to the enemy. Our great veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the liberation of Kuwait will not be surprised to hear that as usual, America's First Team has been sent right to the toughest areas. It was that way on the road to Manila, along the Pusan Perimeter, in the Ia Drang Valley, and in the deserts along the Kuwaiti border. When our country takes on the hardest fights, America calls on the First Team.
Division units have been in action across Iraq. The 4th Brigade Combat Team, "Long Knife", just redeployed in June of 2008. For a year, Long Knife Troopers operating in southern Iraq secured the dangerous Iranian border in a series of difficult operations that spanned three large provinces.
In the northwest, the 3rd BCT, "Grey Wolf", controls Ninewah Province and the big city of Mosul, taking the battle to al-Qaeda terrorists day and night. In the northeast, the 2nd BCT, "Black Jack", dominates the vital oil-rich region around Kirkuk, relentlessly hunting insurgents. Finally, in Baghdad, the 1st BCT, "Iron Horse", the Air Cavalry Brigade, "Warrior", and the Division Special Troops Battalion, "Maverick", lead the way for 30,000-plus Americans and 150,000 uniformed Iraqis as we track down and finish off al-Qaeda and their ilk in the streets of Iraq's capital and the dusty fields beyond.
In carrying out these missions, team mates from America's premier fighting forces. the US Air Force, reinforced at times by Navy and Marine aviators, fly cover for the First-Team units day and night. Civil servants from the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies add to our strength. Contractors sustain members of the First-Team.
In addition, three superb National Guard Combat Brigades, the 30th HBCT, "Old Hickory", the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, "Independence", and the 225th Engineer Brigade, "Cajun Castle", have all done yeoman combat service under tough conditions. The 2nd BCT, 1st Infantry Division, "Dagger", and 3rd BCT, 82d Airborne Division, "Panther", have set high standards while operating in dangerous areas of Baghdad city and the surrounding countryside.
In addition, there has been outstanding support from the 1st BCT, 4th Infantry
Division, "Raider", the 2nd BCT, 1st Armored Division, "Iron Striker", the 3rd
BCT, 4th Infantry Division, "Striker", the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, "Iron
Eagle", the 10th Sustainment Brigade, "Muleskinner", the 8th Military Police
Brigade, "Watch Dog", and the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, "Arrowhead",
all great combat formations. Collectively, we are a team. In this war-in any
The commander of 4th Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade Iraqi Federal Police, agreed with his American counterpart that night patrols are necessary because most crimes happen at night. Not only does it deter crime in the area when US forces work with their Iraqi Security Force partners, but when the people in the community see them working together, side-by-side, they feel safer.
The Soldiers are also giving the Federal Police tips on how to win over the trust of the people in the community by checking up on businesses and talking with children. Talking to the people in the community helps the Soldiers and policemen gather information about insurgents and other criminal activities going on in the area.
After talking with several community members, some shop owners that were
working late and securing three more potential micro-grant businesses, it was
time to return to the vehicles. As the dark humvees slowly turned the corner,
the street cleared out except for a lone figure. The little boy with a hurt
foot stood on the street smiling and waving frantically as the vehicles
disappeared in a cloud of dust into the night.
The 3rd Brigade has been operating in areas in and around Mosul since their arrival to Iraq in January. Their areas of focus have been partnered relationships with Iraqi Security Forces to improve security and stability in the region and capacity-building projects in order to improve quality of life for the people of Ninewah. Now the "Greywolf" brigade is preparing to assume control of western Ninewah from another "Wolfpack" in the coming weeks.
The 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion "Wolfpack", (LAR), 1st Marine Division, which took control of western Ninewah in early 2009, are set to hand over operations in the western part of Ninewah province to the 3rd Brigade in the coming weeks. They will deploy to Twentynine Palms, California in mid-October, leaving their area of operations in the capable hands of the 3rd Brigade.
Training was held to familiarize Iraqi Army (IA) soldiers with aircraft safety procedures before conducting air assault missions. UH-60 Black Hawk crew chiefs from "B" Company load Iraqi army soldiers onto a Black Hawk during a training exercise. The classes are conducted using the same training methods available to US military forces.
For the 17th IA, this is the very beginning of this aspect of training. They have done a lot of ground training, cordon searches (traffic control points) and this is a new type of training that is currently underway.
The 1st ACB provided two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the IA, and the crew chiefs gave them a course of instruction on maneuvering around aircraft. Static load training is the movement of personnel in and out of the aircraft with the power off. It is a safe environment for any Soldiers who do not normally work around helicopters.
The training went on without a hitch regardless of the anticipated communication issues - which were nearly non-existent. This training is also vital to building stronger bonds between these professionals and the US Soldiers.
A key focus is the relationships, not only our relationship with the (30th)
HBCT, but with the relationships we are building with the Iraqis; the trust
and confidence in each other. Although the training exercise builds
confidence and bonds between the two forces, the ultimate goal is yet to come.
The objective is to incorporate the Iraqi Army with the Iraqi Air force to
conduct their own air assaults - that is the end state of this training.
On 9-11, terrorists sought to devastate the country and change the way of life. A plane crashed into the North Tower of the New York Trade Center at 8:46 AM. The crash resulted in the loss of 1,466 lives. The second plane crashed into the South Tower of the New York Trade Center at 9:03 AM resulting in a loss of 624 lives.
American Airlines Flight 77 impacted the West side of the Pentagon at 9:37 AM. During the crash 184 people lost their lives. The final crash occurred at 10:10 AM. when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania country side.
Bravery of Americans was exhibited almost immediately by the courageous acts of the passengers of Flight 93. Though their actions cost them their lives, their sacrifice saved an untold number of innocent people and set the tone for our response. In the attack of 9-11, a total of 421 first responders were killed. To honor the fallen firefighters a bell sounded five times, repeated in four series while servicemembers rendered salutes. It is tradition to honor departed firefighters with the "Striking of Four Fives".
By attacking eight years ago today, our enemies sought to destroy our way of life. The attackers were as evil as they were ingenious, yet they made one crucial mistake; they underestimated us and our resolve to defend life and liberty against the threat of extremism.
As the ceremony came to a close audience members trickled out of the rotunda
to continue on with the work day, but not forgetting the sacrifices made eight
years ago today.
There are many things that is on the mind of the soldier, when deployed, is the long flight overseas, putting their boots on foreign soil for the first time, being away from their loved ones for an extended period of time, or the long, stressful workdays throughout the deployment. One milestone that marks the close of a deployment is often not heard about except in small circles of Soldiers that are discussing the process, is loading up their gear to head home.
The packing process is long and tedious. We start by identifying the non-essential stuff that is not immediately needed and pack that up and start the inventory paperwork. Anything that is packed has to also be accounted for so that if it gets lost in transition, the proper paperwork for reimbursement is required. Inventory is done by the platoon sergeants and squad leaders.
Once the units have gathered up the items that need to be packed, they have to go through a thorough inspection process. Trained customs inspectors will examine all equipment to make sure that all items on the inventory are authorized for shipment home. By the end of their deployment, the 3rd HBCT will have packed up and inspected more than 3.5 million pounds of equipment to be shipped back to the US before leaving Iraq.
The packing process comes in the midst of still ongoing operations and mission
handovers with the replacement units of the 3rd HBCT. Though this is a
milestone for Soldiers to look forward to, the Soldiers know that there is
still much to be done, including the orientation and training of replacement
units. However, packing up to head back to Fort Hood, Texas, is only a small
part of the mission of the 3rd HBCT in Ninewah Province. The Soldiers are
still conducting full spectrum operations in northern Iraq while preparing to
head home. They remain dedicated to their mission until the day they get on a
plane with a successful deployment in their duffel bags.
Under a cloudless blue sky, Karres and his battalion senior noncommissioned
officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Clinton Joseph, following tradition, marched
forward and formally cased the battalion's heavily decorated colors. The
casing of the outgoing battalion's flag was followed by the uncasing of the
incoming 1st Armored Division Special Troops Battalion's flag. After uncasing
his battalion's colors Lt. Col. Lane Turner thanked the Mavericks for their
outstanding performance during the relief-in-place, signaling that the time
had come for the mission of his troops to begin.
The Sky Warrior, a system larger than the Predator, is operated by Soldiers in Iraq as opposed to being flown remotely from the United States. It has a wing span of 56 feet and is capable of carrying Hellfire missiles. The Army wanted QRC-1 to be assigned to the Baghdad area of operations, and since the 1st Cavalry Division was in charge of operations for Baghdad at the time, operation of the unit fell under 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.
The aircraft is in its infancy. The aircraft that is on the flight line are the first aircraft produced by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and deployed by the Army. All of the aircraft were built during the Development and Testing phase of the acquisition process, which means all the aircraft are prototypes. Even though the Sky Warrior is still in a testing phase, it is being used in missions to support units on the ground. Through these missions, QRC-1 is gathering data to determine the direction the program will go.
Program Of Record, or POR, is the final milestone for any new Army asset. Accomplishment of POR will move the MQ-1C from development and testing into full-rate production and adoption into the Army's common inventory. QRC-1 is a program that has been developed to assume and mitigate a lot of the risk for the POR, which should be fully developed in about three years.
The Army saw a need for having division-level UAS assets similar to the Air
Force Predator. The Sky Warrior MQ-1C will answer this need. Current activities
are testing the concept of operations, system limitations, hardware and
software, working through a lot of challenges by forging a new path, but it
has been worth it to see the incredible progress.
Major General Daniel Bolger, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, will redeploy to Fort Hood, Texas, with 1st Cavalry Division after a 12-month deployment in Baghdad. The ceremony, attended by many dignitaries began as Bolger stepped forward and placed the 1st Cavalry Division flag, which has flown over Baghdad since 10 February 2009, into its protective case, signifying that their term of responsibility had ended.
Bolger then took the podium and announced "Today, the 1st Cavalry Division
departs, and we do by honoring the memory of those thirty-eight of our
comrades gave their lives in this mission; 190 were wounded. We have brought
home every one of them - their duty is done."
Word started to get out that the shop was staffed with military occupation specialty personnel for engines, power train, airframe and hydraulics. Customers started trickling in one by one and then it kind of became regular - and now they have been rely on the operation for the last four months. The task force Soldiers recently completed hydraulic repairs and non-destructive inspections on Navy E8-6B Prowler electronic warfare airplanes, Marine CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, along with an airframe repair on an Air Force C-5 Galaxy airplane.
A mutual respect has formed among the Soldiers of the shops platoon and the other military branches. Certain parts, supplies and amenities that TF 227 did not have were acquired because of the willingness to support others outside the unit. One of the first repairs made by the task force was on a C-5 aircraft; a small piece of sheet metal on an engine cowling had started to separate, exposing the engine to the possibility of debris getting inside and causing damage.
With very few staff, the Army shops team only had time to work on other military aircraft once their own missions were complete, making some days stretch into the seventeenth and eighteenth hour. Essentially, the shops personnel made the effort to help other units on their own time while also gaining experience they wouldn't have normally received.
Allyn has performed with skill, imagination, resourcefulness and determination, said General Charles C. Campbell, who leads US Forces Command. Campbell praised Bolger's leadership in the division, which began in February 2008. Iraq is a markedly different place than it was more than a year ago, largely because of the 1st Cavalry,
Bolger, who commanded the 1st Cavalry-led Multinational Division-Baghdad in Iraq from late 2008 to early 2010, and returned to Fort Hood in mid-January, indicated that Allyn was a "smart, tough combat veteran" who was "exactly the right Army leader for the famous 1st Cavalry Division." Bolger will soon move to Washington, where he is set to receive his third star and take over as the Army's deputy chief of staff for operations. He is set to replace Lt. General (promotable) James Thurman, a former 4th Infantry Division commander. Thurman is set to receive his fourth star and lead US Forces Command.
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