Iraqi National Police, Cavalry calming tensions in al Doura
December 22, 2006
BAGHDAD (American Forces Press Service, Dec. 19, 2006) - Shaky beginnings in Baghdad's south central al Doura neighborhood are starting to shape up, as Cavalry Soldiers work with Iraqi National Police to calm tensions between a divided populous.
Task Force 1-14 is one of many units from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division making the neighborhood a safer place to live. They work hand-in-hand with companies from 1st Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, and have done so since August.
"It's taken a lot of work and a lot of effort to get to where we are now," Peterson said. "It was very rocky when we first showed up. We had to build our relationship," said Lt. Col. Jeff Peterson, commander of TF 1-14.
Peterson said joint missions with the policemen for nearly six months included patrolling the streets, cordon and search operations and raids. The teamwork is paying off now, Peterson said.
"Over time, we just keep getting better and better and more efficient," he said. "There's been a marked improvement in the last month."
Most recently, the troops and police conducted Operation Achilles Dec. 10. Peterson called it a parallel approach to the ongoing struggle between the anti-Iraq forces and Coalition Forces.
"It (Operation Achilles) was unique," he said. "(In) the first phase of the mission, we developed some of our own targets, so we did a unilateral operation to conduct raids. Subsequent to that, the NP came and did a medium-scale clearing operation which they planned and organized."
Peterson's troops came into the operation with specific objectives in mind. They were after several high-value targets wanted in connection to ongoing sectarian violence.
The policemen had different objectives. They received information on a weapons cache inside one of the local mosques.
The police raided the mosque and found exactly what they were after: several electronic, roadside bomb initiators, pipe bombs, plastic explosives and assault rifles.
Peterson said that the company of police he worked alongside during the operation was some of the best he's worked with since his unit began these operations.
"Maj. Hayder is one of the stronger leaders in the battalion," he said.
Along with the cache, police found several of the men they were after.
The mission was over. Weapons were taken off the street, and the Iraqi National Police showed how valuable they are to the community. Peterson said it was a very successful joint mission with the police alongside his team.
"When they partner with us, I think they do very well. They searched houses thoroughly. They were on time, in uniform ready to go. They interacted with the Iraqi populous in a professional manner. They were respectful of the property as they went through the home. They were respectful of the families. I thought it was a very successful operation," Peterson said.
He explained how important it was to have the Iraqis in the lead during missions like Achilles.
"With these operations it is very important to find caches, terrorists and detain them, but just as important is that the NP develop their relationship with the Iraqi people," he said. "They need to prove that they are trustworthy, professional and that they will conduct themselves in a professional manner."
The partnership between the Iraqi National Police and Coalition troops is a key to securing a peaceful future for the Iraqi people, Peterson said.
"It's been a long time and a lot of work, but right now it's all about partnership moving toward transition," he said. "I think the partnership is the critical piece of getting the situation in Iraq to where it needs to be so Coalition Forces can depart. It's just going to take some time and commitment."