CAMP ECHO, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 6, 2009) -- Iraqi and U.S. Army Soldiers conducted a combined reconnaissance patrol in Hamza Dec. 30.

The patrol allowed Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and Company B, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division to become more familiar with the town, its people and the local leaders.

"It is important for us to know the area better and meet the people on missions like this," said Ali, a sergeant with 4th Bn., 30th Bde., 8th IA Div. "When the people see us out among them, we get to know each other better and build trust between us.

"It is an important relationship we are building. They help us help them and let us do our job better because they know what is happening in their area. Also, the more the citizens see us doing our job, the more they trust us to keep them safe. That is our job: to protect the Iraqi people," said Ali.

Throughout the day, the patrol walked through market streets and residential areas, stopping to greet people and ask questions about the area.

"These missions build the people's trust in us when we talk with them, help them and show them that we work for them and for their safety," agreed Damin, a staff sergeant with 4th Bn., 30th Bde., 8th IA Div.

"It's necessary to talk to all the people so they understand our presence and what our mission is," said 1st Lt. John Mullany, platoon leader, Co. B, 2-8 Inf. Regt.

Crowds of children threaded their way into conversations with Iraqi and American Soldiers, vying for attention with greetings, offers of refreshments and even cartwheels.

"I like interacting with the people, even if you're not talking about mission related things, but about families and things like that; I enjoy it. I don't think there is any better way of building trust," said Mullany.

"They need to know that we're here to train the Iraqi Army so they can take over and do their own missions and take care of their own country. So when we leave, they will know their country's army and police force are strong," said Mullany.

While the combined patrol introduced the IA to the area, U.S. Soldiers have every confidence their IA partners can handle the tasks at hand.

"These men are trained and they're amazing," said Sgt. Jason Kugler, team leader, Co. B, 2-8 IN. "The 8th IA Division... they're on top of it

Kugler said he felt the U.S. role in training the 8th IA is coming to an end as the unit shows a growing capacity and desire to take over the full responsibility for security in their area.

"This is their country," Kugler said, adding his confidence in their ability to maintain the peace.

"The coalition forces have given us much training, and the Americans we work with are finishing our training. Now, the Iraqi Army is strong and we are able to take care of our country," concluded Damin.

(Sgt. Rodney Foliente writes for 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16