January 2nd, 2007 05:00 EST
Bonds between U.S., Iraqi troops strengthen during operation
CAMP TAJI — Iraqi Army troops from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division conducted operations in the Taji Market north of the Iraqi capital Thursday in order to improve security and reduce sectarian violence in the area.
The citizens, who have become tired of the insurgent aggression in the area, requested the assistance of Iraqi and Coalition forces, said 1st Lt. Garry Flanders, a platoon leader for Troop D, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.
In order to help, the Iraqi troops, with the assistance of Soldiers from Troop D, 1st Bn, 82nd FA, closed a road and moved a checkpoint from one location to another after performing reconnaissance of the area. They also conducted cordon and search operations to look for weapons caches, and incorporated other vital security measures in the market.
“It’s important for the Iraqi Army, and the Iraqi Security Force, to take responsibility for security in Iraq and today has been one of those events where they are getting better at doing that,” said Lt. Col. Martin Clausen, commander, 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt. “Taji Market has been an important crossroads for insurgent activity.”
Flanders, a native of Milledgeville, Ga. said that working with the Iraqi Soldiers helps the U.S. troops understand how the Iraqi Army works.
“The operation gives us a chance to foster better working relationships with them, and more of an understanding of what they do and the assets they have, which gives us a clearer picture of how they operate,” he said.
This joint operation, however, was not the first time that Flanders and his Soldiers have worked with the Iraqi Security Force.
“We go occasionally with them and we’ve been on joint patrols before with (the IA’s) and the Iraqi Police,” added Flanders. “Anytime the Iraqis do these types of patrols, they do a great job, so we have no worries.”
Although some missions involve engagements with insurgents, this day’s mission did not. But it’s always best to remain vigilant said Sgt. John Salazar, a Troop D, 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt. team leader.
“This is definitely one of those things we do day by day where we stay focused and watch the guys to our left and right,” said Salazar, an Espanola, N.M. native.
Salazar added that he has a lot of respect for the IA troops who he often finds himself working alongside.
“I understand what they’re trying to accomplish,” said Salazar. “IA’s have a different way of doing things, but they seem like they’re really coming along. At some point, they need to be able to take over for themselves, and we’re doing absolutely everything we can to help them.”
Besides just IA troops and Soldiers from D Troop, the joint operation also involved the help of Soldiers from the 410th Quartermaster Company attached to the 15th Sustainment Brigade, who performed as lookouts standing guard in towers, observing the action on the ground.
“We’ve had great cooperative support with them as we coordinate with their initial report,” said Clausen. “They know what’s going on and can definitely identify anything unusual.”
Clausen summed up what he wanted his Soldiers to take away from the joint operation.
“I hope they take away a better appreciation for the readiness of our Iraqi counterparts that they can build on for future and on-going operations,” said Clausen.
(Courtesy of U.S. Army Sgt. Jon Cupp 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)