Advise-and-assist paratroopers taste the future
June 5, 2009
FORT POLK, La., - No trigA,A!gers were pulled here as Soldiers of the first, fully-capable adviseA,A!and- assist combat brigade team got ready to support and train Iraqi security forces without takA,A!ing the lead in operations got a taste of what to expect when they deploy to Iraq later this fall.
Paratroopers with Company D and a platoon from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, assisted role-playing Iraqi troops as the Iraqis met with the mayor and cleared the realistic streets of Sadiq, a mock Iraqi town at the Joint Readiness Training Center May 12.
Role-playing Iraqi troops ficA,A!tionally "killed" and "wounded" two armed gunmen as they cleared buildings ahead of their American partners, who providA,A!ed backup foot Soldiers and heavily-armed gun trucks, said Capt. Donald J. Dangler, Company D commander.
American troops fired no shots during the engagement, said Dangler."The entire mission was Iraqi planned and led," he said.
The dusty streets of Sadiq were lined with many small businessA,A!es typical to Iraqi towns: an open-air butcher shop and food market, a flower shop, a bicycle shop and a bakery.
Role-players included Iraqi solA,A!diers, villagers and local and international press.
As soon as soldiers arrived at the town periphery, village leadA,A!ers greeted them with anger over the preceding night's operation, another Iraqi-planned and led mission, this one to pick up a suspected bomb maker, said Dangler.
During gunfire that accompaA,A!nied the arrest, the bomb maker's armed accomplice and one Iraqi soldier were "killed" and another Iraqi soldier and the bomb maker were "wounded," said Dangler.
American troops fired no shots and took no casualties, said Dangler.
Staff Sgt. Chris Kompier, who has deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division, said that the training was excellent.
"I told my men straight up, this is what you can expect there," said Kompier. "This is what you are going to be doing. It's almost exactly the way it is in Iraq, minus the trees," he said.
After Iraqi soldiers cleared the town's buildings, American troops trained them to gather evidence that would stand up in Iraqi court to convict the gunA,A!men, said Kompier.
"It's not going to be shooting with bombs going off this time," said Kompier of his unit's upcoming deployment as an advise-and-assist brigade. "It's going to be gathering evidence, doing the paperwork, containing the suspect, getting him from there with enough evidence and enough paperwork in front of a judge, etc.," he said.
"I think that, for people who have gone to war before, espeA,A!cially the old guys like me, this deployment is going to be a big change," said Kompier. "The first thing we do is react to contact.
Now I have to switch my whole mindset to being a police officer.
As long as I can find that eviA,A!dence and get it in front of a judge, I can make it happen," he said.
Paratroopers are historically very good at adapting to the changing battlefield, said Kompier.
"It takes a special person to be airborne in the 82nd Airborne Infantry," said Kompier.
During Kompier's last deployA,A!ment to Iraq with the 82nd, his unit was assigned to convoy security, not a typical role for an airborne infantry unit, he said.
As the battalion's anti-tank experts, Company D is a mountA,A!ed unit, meaning that it generally operates from humvees and other military vehicles, whereas the battalion's other companies are all light infantry, said Kompier.