Iraqi army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 43rd Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, conduct a cordon and knock clearing operation in the Jihad community of the Rashid district in southern Baghdad. The IA jundi planned, coordinated and conducted the operation with the leaders and Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division — Baghdad serving in an advisory capacity. The Soldiers of the 1st “Raider” BCT are supporting Iraqi security forces in the Rashid district in their ongoing efforts to provide security and stability for the people of Baghdad. Photo by Staff Sgt. Brent Williams.
Wednesday, 04 June 2008
By Staff Sgt. Brent Williams
1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON — The Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Military Transition Team don’t collect weapons. The MiTT team assigned to the 43rd Bde., 11th Iraqi Army Div., did not deploy to the Rashid district in southern Baghdad to capture detainees either.
Nor do they have to – thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Iraqi army and Iraqi security forces working with Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers, said Maj. Mark Thompson, operations officer for the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B.
“The Iraqi army is a lot better than the last time we were here, and we are going out there to continue that; so that sometime in the near future the IA soldiers will be fully capable of operating without our support,” Thompson said before the start of a cordon and search operation led by the 2nd Bn., 43rd Bde., 11th IA Div., May 30 in the Jihad community of west Rashid.
The team of select officers and enlisted Soldiers participated in the day-long event to coach and advise the Iraqi army and call for indirect fire support and close air support if needed, said Thompson, an armor officer who hails from Phoenix, Ariz.
The “Regulars” Soldiers of the 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Regt., are currently partnered with 43rd Bde., 11th IA Div. and national policemen from the 2nd Bn., 5th Bde., 2nd National Police Division operating in the Bayaa, Aamel and Jihad communities of the Rashid district, said Thompson.
“The Iraqi army has stood up to become for all intents and purposes an Army; while the NPs are modeled after the Italian Arma dei Carabinieri (military police), responding to natural disasters, civil disorders and emergencies of that nature,” he explained. “Right now the two are working West Rashid in the same capacity: to enforce security and enhance stability for the Iraqi people.”
The 2nd Bn., 43rd Bde., 11th IA Div. assumed responsibility for the west Rashid district approximately six months ago, said Staff Sgt. Floyd Getchell, MiTT team chief, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 22nd Inf. Regt., 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B.
The 43rd Bde. planned, coordinated and conducted the operation, which allowed the MiTT team to serve strictly as observers, said Getchell, a 16-year combat veteran from Phoenix, Ariz.
“This was a small operation for the unit, but an opportunity for them to cut their teeth,” he said.
Getchell, who worked on a brigade MiTT team during his last deployment in support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006, said that his initial impressions of the IA unit’s operation were good, and that the job of the MiTTs is progressively getting easier.
“They understand the movement as a unit,” he said. “They are working to get on line and sweep an area, organizing to clear out a row of buildings.”
According to Getchell, the biggest change to the ISF is their level of competency, understanding that they are in charge, and charismatic leaders, who are taking charge of the situation.
“It used to be if Iraqi soldiers screwed something up in Saddam’s army, they would find themselves in the bottom of a grave,” said Getchell. “Now, we’re getting them to realize that they are in the lead. They have the ability to make decisions, and no longer have to ask permission to make things happen.”
Getchell said that while the operation only yielded a few weapons discovered in an abandoned house, the message the IA soldiers sent to the residence of the muhalla – one of stability and security – made the event a far greater success.
“The 2nd Bn. seems to be very professional,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Elledge, commander of the 1st “Regulars” Bn., 22nd Inf. Regt., 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B. “I am pretty proud of what they are doing so far.”
The Iraqi army soldiers of the 2nd Bn., 43rd Bde., 11th Iraqi Army Div. are treating the Iraqi people with respect, working with the community and addressing issues as they work to secure the neighborhoods and clear weapons and contraband from the Jihad community, said Elledge, who hails from Dexter, Mo.
“They were a little rough around the edges when we got them, but I think they are starting to gel into a good combat force,” he said.