November 30th, 2007 11:02 EST
Iraqis Work to Secure Their Country
TIKRIT " Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers recently led a raid into an area of Ad Dawr with Iraqi police (IP) and a small contingent of U.S. Soldiers to put a stop to insurgent activities there.
The 1st Battalion of the 1st Brigade, 4th IA led the pre-dawn raid into the area to capture insurgents and disrupt illegal traffic checkpoints used by those insurgents to rob and kill local Iraqis. The IP provided security for the team. The U.S. Army Military Transition Team (MiTT) of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division provided guidance and support for the IA, who planned and executed the mission.
Maj. Jackie Kaina of the 1st Brigade, 4th IA MiTT said the operations are driven by intelligence, which is mostly gathered by the IA. The mission was coordinated by the IA when an informant who had been ostracized by the insurgents came forward with information.
The operation, called Hellstorm, was a success in that the IA captured several of the High-Value Individuals on their list, and in the process seized several vehicles used in the illegal operations. They also discovered an emplaced improvised explosive device (IED) hidden under a bridge. The MiTT called in a U.S. Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, who detonated the IED in place.
The IED is one of the reasons that the MiTT accompanies the IA on larger operations. Their mission is to train, advise and mentor the IA. They bring with them capabilities like aeromedical evacuation, air weapons teams and other military assets that the IA doesn`t have yet, said Kaina.
The present-day IA formed in 2005 when it transitioned to an actual Army, Kaina said, who worked with IA Soldiers during his last deployment.
As an Army they have come a huge way since 04-05, " said Kaina. They have come a lot further than I thought they would. Two years later, I really didn`t think they would be at this point. Maturity-wise, the officers act like officers, and the NCO corps is starting to grow. "
Since his last deployment with the IA, Kaina said he has seen them grow by leaps and bounds.
Their improvement is in their command and control, " Kaina said. Now they are much more objective focused and much more professional. They are very visible "that is one of the biggest improvements. To the Iraqi populace, they know who the IA is. "
Kaina said that he believes that at this point, The IA is mature enough on the ground that they are taking the lead, and the U.S. forces are no longer in the lead by any stretch of the imagination. The MiTT is there to assist if the IA needs it, but it is the IA making the decisions and conducting the missions on their own.
The IA is already conducting daily patrols and company-sized raids on their own, without the help of the MiTT.
They are very much in the lead and very much taking control, " Kaina said. Where before they would have come to us and asked what to do next. Their leadership has matured to the level at which they no longer need to ask us those questions, they have done enough, know enough and are successful enough to know where they are going. "
(By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)