Faces From the Front for April 5, 2010 - Col. Tim McKernan
Current Unit: U.S. Army Security Assistance Command
Current Position: Liaison to the Iraq Security Assistance Mission
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Baghdad, Iraq
Hometown: Anaconda, Mont.
Years of Service: 23
With five previous deployments under his belt, Col. Tim McKernan did not expect any surprises when he received orders to complete his current tour in Baghdad, Iraq. However, when McKernan discovered that he would be serving as a liaison to the Iraq Security Assistance Mission (ISAM), he realized this deployment would prove far different than his past experiences, in which his responsibilities had centered on supporting and facilitating combat and counter-insurgency operations.
"This deployment has me in a role whereby success is measured in the Iraqi Security Forces' ability to gain and maintain security for the Iraqi people," McKernan explained.
In his current role, McKernan is responsible for training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). McKernan is also working to educate the Iraqi government on the processes and policies necessary to facilitate future security cooperation activities with the U.S., which will ensure a lasting relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.
"Our mission here in Iraq is two-fold," McKernan said. "First, we are here to support the government of Iraq, as they continue building the ISF, to achieve essential capacities prior to our planned withdrawal at the end of 2011. Next, and probably most importantly, we are here to support building a long-term, stable and symbiotic partnership with the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi people."said.
McKernan knows that his work with the ISF is essential to improving the quality of life in Iraq.
"The ISF's ability to protect their country from internal and external threats is critical to continued improvement in the Iraqi peoples' way of life," McKernan said.
During his time in Iraq, McKernan has seen the ISF make great strides in their ability to independently secure their country.
"What I find most rewarding about this deployment is seeing the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces move forward to take charge of their country, which will allow their continued prosperity," McKernan said. "The difference from June 2009, when I arrived, to now is striking, as the overall level of violence is much lower. Although the ISF continues to have challenges from a determined enemy, they also continue to grow, adapt, and gain the necessary professionalism and ministerial capacity to carry on effectively after our departure."
As a result of the achievements the ISF has made over the past several months, the Iraqi people have developed faith in their government and its ability to improve Iraq and lives of its citizens.
"Talking with my Iraqi colleagues and friends, there is a renewed optimism amongst the people that life will continue to get better for the average Iraqi and that they will have the same things we Americans want, life to be better for our children and grandchildren."
McKernan is proud of the work that he and his fellow Soldiers have completed during this deployment. He is slated to return home from Iraq in the coming weeks, and looks forward to spending time with his two children and his wife, who is an Army Reservist currently serving at Fort Hood.
Prior to his current deployment, McKernan has served tours in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. For his outstanding service, he has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal on three separate occasions.