Old Hickory Soldiers honor promise to National Police
May 29, 2009
BAGHDAD - Weeks after arriving in country, Soldiers of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team sought to strengthen their relationship with Iraqi National Police in the Dora neighborhood by supplying wood to improve construction of NP security checkpoints here, May 23.
The "Old Hickory Brigade" Soldiers of Company C, 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, 30th HBCT, delivered a truckload of wood to fortify and improve police checkpoints operated by the 1st Bn., 7th Bde, 2 NP Division in the Dora neighborhood of southern Baghdad.
Cpt. Greg Jenkins, commander of C Co., said the wood delivery was the fulfillment of a promise made earlier to the commander of the 1st Bn., 7th Bde, 2 NP Div.
"He just expressed to us that he needs wood to make improvements to his checkpoints," said Jenkins, a native of Willow Spring, N.C. "This is a follow up made on a previous unit here to get him supplies."
Jenkins said the wood supply - a truckload of plywood and boards difficult to obtain in Baghdad - will be used to construct shelters for NP checkpoints.
"This will fulfill a need for something that will make the unit better and provide some protection from the sun for their guys and build relationships," Jenkins said.
Though the wood will be used for building, the real relationship is built through face-to-face meetings, such as the key leader engagement that coincided with the wood delivery. While C Co. Soldiers guarded a truckload of wood, Jenkins met with local NP leaders to discuss intelligence on insurgent activity and the NP needs. Jenkins said the NP leaders told him they needed garbage bags and also requested help filling in holes between some T-wall barriers to improve protection.
"When we partner with these guys, we build relationships and we do what we can to provide security and information," Jenkins said. "They're doing an outstanding job of locating a number of things like [vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices]. Just last week, they found seven rockets in our operational environment."
After the meeting concluded, the Soldiers helped their NP partners unload the wood into a warehouse. 1st Sgt. Percy Rachels, gave a hand to his Soldiers, helping to heave the large pieces of wood from the truck.
"Bringing this plywood here will hopefully bring a better relationship between us and the IP," said Rachels, of Laurinburg, N.C. "It will show our good faith in them."
Rachels, who has 37 years of service in the North Carolina Army National Guard and is on his second deployment with the Old Hickory Brigade, said he has seen many young Soldiers grow into experienced and competent non-commissioned officers. He predicts a good future for the NP.
"From the first tour to this tour, the Iraqis are a little more organized and ready to take control of their country," Rachels said. "Every Iraqi I have met is real proud of Iraq."
Following the wood delivery, C Co. Soldiers mounted up and performed route reconnaissance in the city they help patrol and keep secure. Though they have only been in country a matter of weeks, the Soldiers of the Old Hickory Brigade are helping build relationships with their Iraqi partners, one plank at a time.