CAMP ECHO, Iraq, Oct. 21, 2008 - Iraqi soldiers and police and U.S. Soldiers who live and work together at the Joint Security Station in Diwaniya, Iraq, are dedicated to one goal: a self-sustaining and independently secure Iraq.

In the short time since the arrival of the 4th Infantry Division's Company C, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the unit's Soldiers said, they have conducted training and daily missions that keep the Iraqi security forces in the forefront and the U.S. Soldiers providing assistance when needed.

Army Staff Sgt. Adam Martinez, Company C section sergeant, is serving his third deployment to Iraq. The quality and capability of the Iraqi security forces, he said, have shown vast improvement and now have a strong and consistent presence in Diwaniya.

"Iraq has changed a lot since the last two times I've been here. It went from having hardly any checkpoints to having them every one or two blocks here," Martinez, who comes from Harlingen, Texas, said. "It gives [the Iraqi security forces] a face to the public so they can see how they're working hard to make their country better."

People approach the Iraqi police and soldiers with their problems, he said, adding that the citizens' requests for help illustrate that the people trust them to keep the peace.

The U.S. presence in the area provides more of a support role and assistance in professionalizing the Iraqi security forces, Army 1st Lt. Cory Guenther, Company C fire support officer, said. "Our working with them shows them a baseline of what standards we're using and gives them [an example for] some of the tasks they should be accomplishing," the Tomah, Wis., native explained.

With each patrol including Iraqi soldiers and police, fewer U.S. Soldiers are required for the missions, Guenther said, noting that as the Iraqi forces continue to progress, more American Soldiers will find their slots replaced by Iraqis.

Hori, a soldier with the 8th Iraqi Army Division's 4th Battalion, said working with the Americans helps the Iraqi security forces become more proficient. He added that they all are eager for the time when the Iraqi security forces will be able to do their jobs without foreign assistance and Iraq will be strong and self-reliant.

(Sgt. Rodney Foliente serves with the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.)