BAGHDAD - Pennsylvania Army National Guard Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team partnered with Iraqi Army Soldiers, May 19, to search several locations in the Abu Ghraib area for explosives. The joint patrol was part of an ongoing joint effort to lessen the threat of vehicle borne IED's in Abu Ghraib by searching for components used in making car bombs.

Soldiers from Company B, 2-112th said the continued patrols with the Iraqis serve as a deterrent to would-be insurgents.

"The VBIED is one of the greatest threats. We were actively patrolling to mitigate that threat," said Capt. Jason Hoffman, commander of Co. B. "We maintain a near constant presence."

Hoffman said Soldiers of the 2-112th face "a big challenge" in Abu Ghraib, at one time one of the more volatile areas of Iraq, but said he is proud of the way his Soldiers have met that challenge and have represented both the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and the U.S. Army. Hoffman said the civilian experience teachers, corrections officers and emergency medical technicians bring to Iraq as Soldiers is invaluable. He said his Soldiers are involved in "full spectrum operations" that range from combat patrols to assisting with civil affairs missions.

"We've done a lot of great things here," said 1st Lt. Michael Keckler, of Bel Air, Md., a platoon leader with Co. B.

Keckler's platoon was in charge of securing a landing zone during the operation, in the event that medical evacuation by air was needed. He echoed Hoffman, saying, his platoon maintains a near constant presence in sector. He said that level of activity pays off with locals providing more tips on insurgent activity.

"The civilians are stepping up. They're a little less scared, because we're out there all the time," he said. "They're less scared to come and talk to us."

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