• BAGHDAD - Soldiers with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, aid in inspecting local vehicles at checkpoints Jan. 18, to ensure that nothing hostile to the local populace slips by. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh, 366th MPAD, USD-C)

    Nothing hostile

    BAGHDAD - Soldiers with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, aid in inspecting local vehicles at checkpoints Jan. 18, to ensure that nothing hostile to the local populace slips...

  • BAGHDAD - Sgt. Aaron Lilge, a native of Indianapolis and squad leader from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, studies a local's identification card at a traffic control point Jan. 18, alongside his Iraqi counterpart. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh, 366th MPAD, USD-C)

    Studying documentation

    BAGHDAD - Sgt. Aaron Lilge, a native of Indianapolis and squad leader from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, studies a local's identification card at a traffic control point...

BAGHDAD - Cars were searched and identification requested by Iraqi Army Soldiers who are well on their way to standing on their own.
Soldiers from the 12th Field Artillery Regiment ensure that standards are met when Iraqi Army Soldiers manage traffic control checkpoints and serve as watchmen for the northeastern Baghdad area.
Typical missions for Btry. A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, involve overseeing the traffic in an area as a type of presence patrol and supporting the IA in their continuance to monitor traffic control points.
"We teach them how to set up TCPs, search vehicles and control traffic through the TCPs," said Pfc. Patrick Martin, a native of Detroit and gunner for Btry. A.
Btry. A has taken a step back and is letting the IA run everything, but the U.S. Soldiers have a clear oversight of what's going on, said Staff Sgt. Michael Blackert, a native of Huntsville, Ala., and section chief for Btry. A.
Another mission Battery A takes pride in is to ensure that all routes are secured and cleared for possible threats, said Blackert. Many areas are still considered danger zones and are of special interest to the battery.
"We're there to watch everything in front of and beside us," said Martin.
As the gunner, Martin can see everything from a higher view. He can see above the concrete barriers and into the neighborhoods, enabling him to detect a magnitude of situations, and connecting him with the locals on a more intimate level.
"It's good to be a gunner because you see more and get a more personal interaction with the Iraqi people," said Martin.
As the situation continues to improve with the Iraqis taking the lead in operations, Soldiers will continue to stand beside them.
The skills imparted from U.S. Soldiers have been a valuable resource, said Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Majed Abd with 1st Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, who added that he is happy to have their help and expertise. Often times, he is eager to offer them chai tea as a symbol of his gratitude.
"Things have really turned around here," said Sgt. Justin Southwick, a native of Monroe, Wash., and ammo team chief for Btry. A.
Southwick and Martin agreed that the Iraqis are more aware of their surroundings, reiterating that it is a prodigious step in the right direction.
The IA will eventually face the challenge of running operations without the presence of U.S. Soldiers; but for now, the Soldiers will continue to infuse a wealth of knowledge and tactics before a full departure.
"I think they could probably do it without us," said Martin assuredly.

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