'Advise & Assist' brigade meets with transition teams
June 17, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq -- Transition teams throughout southern Iraq attended a conference June 12, at Contingency Operating Base Adder.
The conference provided a forum for transition team leaders to establish new relationships, share best practices and receive guidance from the commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. The BCT deployed to Iraq last month as the first "Advise and Assist" Brigade to complete specialized Stability Operations training and be given the job of helping train Iraqi Security Forces.
"You all have the hardest jobs," said Col. Peter A. Newell, commander, 4th BCT, 1st Armored Div. "Our mission success is based on the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces to accomplish their mission. You are the tip of the spear in paving our way to going home."
Newell affirmed his brigade's support for all the teams in the provinces of Dhi Qar, Muthanna and Maysan.
"There are 21 teams operating in our brigade area, advising an Iraqi Army division, national police, three provincial police forces, a border enforcement brigade, and a logistics hub," said Capt. Johnny Fortenberry, brigade Iraqi Security Force coordinator. "The transition teams have an important mission."
"The conference provided an opportunity to see that other teams have similar challenges," said Maj. Paul Gunnison, a transition team leader from Jeffersonville, Ind. "This widened the intellectual pool for solutions to issues faced by similar organizations; it was a good idea to have this event so soon after the brigade's recent transfer of authority."
While transition teams have made progress the last six years, there are still challenges that must be met head-on to complete the mission.
"If you have been out of country for more than three months, then you don't know what's going on because of how fast things change here," said Newell. "Because of the constant changing environment, we will continue to adapt to accomplish the mission."
"Life on a team is challenging," said Sgt. 1st. Class Alberto Carrera, team noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 11th Bde., 4th Border Division, known as "Team Reaper."
"Being at a remote site, you learn to adapt quickly," added Carerra, a San Fernando, Calif., native.
The 4-1 or "Highlander Bde" knows about change. Traditionally postured as a combat outfit, the unit is in an advise and assist role to better facilitate the needs of ISF while operating in accordance with the U.S. - Iraq Security Agreement.
"We can't just play catch up, we need to get ahead," said Newell. "We need to help (ISF) see what they aren't doing, which will in turn help in getting them to function on their own."
By doing that, Coalition Forces will have reached their ultimate goal: Iraqi police, Iraqi border enforcement and Iraqi Army Soldiers doing what it takes to provide a safe, secure and stable Iraq for their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
(Spc. Bradley J. Clark serves with the 4th BCT, 1st Armored Div.)