Familiarity gives Soldier an edge
August 31, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - "I like being a forward observer, don't get me wrong, but there is nothing like having your boots on the ground and patrolling," said 22 year old Spc. Christopher Burrows. "It's great to be working back in Taji, where we worked during [our last tour]. We built a trust with the people here, and I'm glad we can continue it."
Burrows' familiarity to Taji gives him an extra tool in his arsenal. The forward observer is currently on his second tour of duty in Iraq with the 1st "Dragon" Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Heeding his brother's guidance to join the Army four years ago, the Pennsboro, W. Va. native has no regrets about his decision.
"My brother told me that when he joined the Army it was the best decision he had ever made," explained Burrows.
After receiving his brother's guidance, Burrows enlisted in the delayed entry program in 2005 and joined the Army after his high school graduation.
"When I joined, I felt that even though I was young, I definitely needed to be straightened out," said Burrows. "My brother told me that the Army instilled discipline in him, which is something I definitely needed."
Burrows, now married and expecting the birth of his second child, feels the people of Iraq deserve the same rights that he and his family have.
"I think the Iraqi people have the right to live in a free country, but they first need to embrace the Iraqi Security Forces and the Government of Iraq," said Burrows, who interacts with Iraqis daily.
He and his comrades have returned to the same battle space he patrolled during the bulk of their last Iraq rotation. Returning to the Taji area is something Burrows definitely looked forward to when he found out the "Dragons" were moving to Camp Taji midway through their current deployment.
During his first tour, Burrows served with the famous "Dagger" Troop, who were instrumental in ridding the area of militancy. While serving in the Taji area, Burrows was part of the expansion and economic growth that can still be seen in the area today.
"It's a great advantage to be patrolling the same area that we did last tour," said Burrows. "It amazes me to see the amount of growth this area has gone through since we first came here in 2006."
The Taji area has gone through a major overhaul in recent years due to the footprint left by the "Dragons". During their 06-08 rotation, the battalion partnered with many of the same key leaders they meet with now who are making Taji a bustling economic area, added Burrows.
Having the experience of a previous tour of Taji and four years of military service does not go unnoticed with Burrows' superiors. Burrows familiarity of not only the area, but of military standards set him apart from his peers.
"I trust Spc. Burrows with any mission I give him, he always executes anything I ask of him to the standard," explained Crestview, Fla. native, Staff Sgt. Roree Anderson, his platoon sergeant. "He is one of the best Soldiers I have ever worked with."
Burrows' experience in his current area of operations is a vital asset for himself, his battle buddies, and his platoon, added Anderson. The familiarity and comfort that Burrows has with the people of Taji, as well as his ability and diligence, will provide himself and the "Dragons" many opportunities to succeed as the unit begins its final months of their rotation.