SAMARRA, Iraq, (Army News Service, Dec. 21, 2006) - Prior to their August deployment the Soldiers of 4th Platoon, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, days were filled with continual training centered on locating the enemy. Now in a combat zone, these Soldiers find their days are still filled with training.
While conducting combat operations in Samarra, the Soldiers are accompanied by either the Iraqi police or National Police three to four times a week. Working with the Iraqis allows the Soldiers to show them new techniques while in the field.
"We've worked with the Iraqi police a lot and we've started working more with the National Police to get them in the groove of how things are working," said 1st Lt. John Daniel Johnson, platoon leader. "They still need some work, but they're getting better. I think by using our tactics and our buddy team systems, they can learn a lot about how we and why we do things the way we do and why it's so important."
"Yesterday, one of their lieutenants was actually telling them to pull security here and the guy bounds up and gets there," said Sgt. 1st Class Christian Requejo, platoon sergeant. "He's worked with the U.S. for a while. He's accustomed to our tactics and doctrine, and he's trying to implement that into his guys."
When the Soldiers first arrived in Iraq, there was a hesitancy about working with Iraqis, several Soldiers said.
"When we first arrived, we didn't know what to expect, as far as the civilians, the enemy or Iraqi and coalition forces," Ducheney continued. "I don't think we knew we were going to be working with them as much as we have.
"It took a little bit of getting used to them in our formations, in our patrols and involving them with everything," Ducheney said. "They've really become an asset to us now."
Since August, much of the Soldiers' reluctance has dissipated as the Soldiers and Iraqis have been able to move past first impressions and communications barriers.
"In the four months we've been working here with the National Police, you can tell there has been a lot of improvement in the police officers and their leadership," Ducheney said. "We showed them how to patrol, scan and pull proper security. Now when we go out with them they're almost like one of guys up there. It has gotten to the point that I can trust them."
As the Soldiers have learned to trust the Iraqis, they've also come to realize the constant danger the Iraqis and their families face from insurgents, who harass and threaten them for working with Americans.
"They actually put more on the line than we do," Requejo said. "We are in somewhat of a safe environment when we are back at our patrol base, but they live in the area.
"We constantly hear about how an Iraqi policeman who was murdered or how his family was harassedaEUR| but they still come to work," Requejo said. "Then you understand they have just as much, if not more on the line because their families are here."
"They do get scared sometimes which is certainly understandable," Ducheney added. "So many of them get killed and it's not just them who get killed, it's also their families, but these guys really go above and beyond."
The Soldier's compassion for their Iraqi counterparts and their hardships is reciprocated through the Iraqis admiration for the U.S. Soldier.
"Its funny they kind of look at us like super heroes or something like that," Ducheney said. "I don't know, maybe it's because we have the big guns.
"Most of them really like us and we've developed a good relationship. It's good to know that we inspire them," Ducheney said. "Hopefully they can keep doing everything we've established once we're gone."