By Sgt. Michael Tuttle, 5th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJanuary 17, 2007
KIRKUK - Artillery Soldiers visited two oil-gas separation plants in Janbar Thursday to check the progress of the Oil Protection Forces guarding pipelines south of here.
The OPF, funded by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, guard the infrastructure that keeps the oil flowing in the area.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, met with the OPF to learn how they can better support the Iraqi Forces and ensure they continue to receive the tools they need for success. The 3-7 Soldiers make themselves available to assist with training, supplies and guidance on a variety of issues.
"If they need anything, we help them get it and get it to them," said Staff Sgt. Cedric Stevenson, platoon sergeant.
In response to previous discussions with the OPF, a guard tower funded by Coalition Forces was built at one of the plants. At another, Soldiers helped build a kitchen, improving conditions for the protection forces guarding the plants 24-hours a day.
"The OPF are the ones out here every day guarding these plants," Stevenson said. "We'll do anything we can to help make them stronger."
The economic benefits of the gas-oil separation plants are imperative to the region's success, said Stevenson. And with the insurgent threat to the local infrastructure, the OPF's ability to guard the plants is vital. Insurgents and terrorists typically attempt to destroy anything providing stability or hope to the Iraqi people.
"Anything we can offer to help these guys, anything to help them get better at what they do, we're willing to do that," Stevenson said.