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Published:April 9th, 2007 04:17 EST

U.S. Soldiers meet Iraqi counterparts

By SOP newswire

CAMP TAJI " Iraqi Army Soldiers and U.S. Soldiers had a partnership day here Apr. 2.

U.S. forces from Dagger Troop, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, attached to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and IA Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) took the time to get to know each other.

During the event, U.S. troops provided an M1A2 Abrams tank while the IA provided several of their T-72 tanks, and with the assistance of interpreters, both forces explained the operation of their equipment.

"This is an important opportunity for us as a troop, it gives me the chance to meet my counterpart," said Capt. Martin Wohlgemuth, troop commander.

"We`re focusing on relationships, we won`t build trust and confidence with our Iraqi counterparts without taking time to do these kinds of things," he added. "It`s important as they work together and then see each other in gatherings like this one that they recognize the faces they see."

Dagger troops worked with IA troops conducting both mounted and dismounted patrols. The tankers trained on cordons, searches, and finding weapons caches.

"It`s been a really awesome experience working with them," said 1st Lt. Jeremy King-McCrillis, a tank platoon leader for Dagger. "It`s good helping these guys to take over their sector, and whenever we go on patrols, they`re in the lead."

King-McCrillis added that the IA troops are making a lot of progress in their areas of operations.

"They`ve been going out there on their own and have found many improvised explosive devices without us," said McCrillis. "Any targets that they want to go after, we`re here to assist them with."

The Dagger tankers said with all the time spent working with the Iraqi tankers outside the wire, it was no surprise, the day`s bonding was a welcomed experience."""

"It felt great getting to show my Iraqi comrades, my band of brothers here, how to work our tanks," said Pfc. Dane Dubouzet, a tank driver. "They were very cooperative, and it was easy to show them because they comprehend it all very well. They had a great time learning how to operate the Abrams.""

We are building trust and confidence with our Iraqi counterparts. Partnership Day is a success because it affords us the opportunity to take our gear off and get to know each other, according to Wohlgemuth.


(By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)