Dagger Brigade gains Stryker Soldiers, more ground
March 2, 2009
BAGHDAD - No sooner than the troopers of the 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment said goodbye to the 2nd Heavy "Dagger" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, did Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment arrive and begin combat operations as an attached unit to the Dagger Brigade.
With the addition of the Stryker Soldiers, the Dagger Brigade has expanded its operational area, to include a vast portion of western Baghdad.
Soldiers of the 2nd Bn., 112th Inf. Regt., said the opportunity to serve not only with active duty Soldiers, but Soldiers of the U.S. Army's longest serving infantry division is not just an honor, but also a chance to prove they belong on the battlefield with their active-component partners.
"We're excited to be working under the 1st Infantry Division," said 1st Sgt. Michael Swartz, a native of Duncansville, Pa., senior enlisted member, Company C, 2nd Bn., 112th Inf. Regt. "It gives us a chance to work under an active duty brigade and to show the active duty what we bring to the table."
Swartz explained some of the advantages of leading an Army National Guard unit into a combat environment where counterinsurgency tactics are a large part of the fight.
"My unit is largely corrections officers, which is a benefit to us because they are used to dealing with security-watching crowds-those types of things that we are going to be doing here. So that helps," said Swartz.
Another critical factor to the unit's success is being able to adjust to life in western Baghdad. The unit spent the majority of the past six months training to prepare for their deployment to Iraq.
During that time the Soldiers were forced to share close quarters with their comrades and came to Iraq with the expectation of continuing that trend, but to their surprise the condition on their joint security station allowed room to spread out.
"It's the best living conditions I've seen since this whole thing kicked off," said Staff Sgt. James Larson, a native of Bellwood, Pa. "We've been living within a foot of each other for the last six months; finally I can set up a little place and move in a little bit."
The area the Soldiers are moving into is Joint Security Station Nassir Wa Salam, which is located west of Baghdad. The JSS is shared with their Iraqi counterparts and the Soldiers are already using this new environment to their advantage when it comes to working with the Iraqis.
"So far we have had a good relationship with the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police," said Swartz. "We've been able to get them together and get them talking about joint operations and so far that is probably the biggest thing that has been good for us."
As the Soldiers settle in to their new environment and learn the finer points of operating in accordance with the recently signed security agreement one thing remains the same; the mission comes first.
"It's a busy area here because of how the highway system flows through this area," said Swartz. "But the Iraqis are motivated to patrol with us and get out there on the streets."