Long Knife training team at the edge of transition
October 14, 2008
AMARAH, Iraq - "You are not 4-1 CAV MiTT unless...." is a phrase used by the 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Military Transition Team to describe the unique experiences they encounter on a daily basis. The phrase describes the unforgettable moments that often occur during close interaction with their Iraqi counterparts.
"Although the MiTT is a small part of our unit, the personnel on the team have a mission that is critical to the security and future of Iraq and the region," said Maj. Lou Morales, the MiTT team leader from Harriman, New York.
The Long Knife MiTT has a complex task, which includes assisting the 10th Iraqi Army's Division staff coordinate combat operations and training events for the Iraqi Army's ground forces.
The team is composed of 12 officers and non-commissioned officers from various battalions throughout the 4th BCT each of whom has an Iraqi counterpart.
"The team has become a close knit group in a very short amount of time," said Los Angeles native, Staff Sgt. Ruben Montoya, a member of the logistics section from the Long Knife Brigade's 27th Brigade Support Battalion. "We wouldn't normally work together, and it's a learning experience to see how each section operates."
Daily interaction with the IA staff allows the Long Knife team to assess the combat readiness of the Iraqi unit and present ideas that move the unit forward in accomplishing the missions at hand.
On any given day, team members meet with and offer suggestions to senior level IA officials, provincial leaders and city officials.
Working with their Iraqi counterparts has allowed the team to build unique and close relationships with the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Iraqi Army.
The team recently returned from an extended mission in the city of Amarah, near the eastern Iraqi border. They were the only Coalition personnel living in an IA controlled camp.
"I have to keep an open mind and positive approach," said Staff Sgt. Heath Ward, a noncommissioned officer in the 27th BSB, from Greatbend, Kansas, expressing his feelings on what it's like to work and live closely with his Iraqi counterparts. "Their values are not so much different from ours."
Whether it's drinking juice boxes in an Iraqi general's office at midnight, or learning to eat new delicacies with bare hands, each MiTT team member has a unique story to tell. These experiences continue to aid Coalition forces in southern Iraq in the efforts to solidify the 10th IA's presence within the local provinces.