Soldiers check polling sites prior to Iraq's election
March 3, 2010
NASIR WA SALAM, Iraq ( March 3, 2010) -- At the request of Iraqi security forces, U.S. Soldiers joined them Monday to patrol along sites that will be used in the March 7 election.
A week before Iraqi elections set for Sunday, Soldiers from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, conducted a presence patrol along the Kandahri marketplace near Abu Ghraib. The aim was to ensure the Iraqis were prepared to protect voters.
"We're here working together with the Iraqis for a common goal," said Spc. Yahir Macias, assigned to Company B, 4-9th Infantry. "If the Iraqis succeed, then U.S. forces succeed."
The patrol demonstrated U.S. willingness to support the Iraqi people when requested, said 1st Sgt. Mark Ohme, first sergeant of Company B.
"The ISF have a pretty good handle on security of the area," said Ohme, a native of Bermebaton, Wash. "They have a better understanding of security within their area than we do. We're here to support them when they need us."
As the patrol walked down the streets and alleys surrounding the Kandahri marketplace, children came out from alcoves to wave to the U.S. Soldiers as they passed. Macias waved back to a young boy standing in an archway.
"We're letting these people know we're still here for them," said Macias.
At the second polling site, they discovered Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police already providing security.
"Iraq has become a proficient security force," said Capt. Derek Noel, commander of Company B. "This is a sign of the success over the last seven years that the ISF are at the point they are at now."
Noel explained how the performance of the ISF has improved substantially from his last deployment to this one.
"There was a time where American forces were in the spotlight," said Noel, a Gettysburg, Pa., native, "but now we can place the Iraqis on their own pedestal and take on a different role as advisors and a supplemental combat force."
Macias said it has been good to see how far the Iraqis have come in standing on their own.
"It always makes someone feel good when helping someone else out," said Macias.
"We're helping an entire nation, so the good feeling is even better."