By Maj. Chad Carroll, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.November 18, 2008
FORWARD OPERATING BASE GARRY OWEN, Iraq - For the first time in the Maysan Province, leaders from the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Border Patrol met with Coalition leaders near the provincial capital of Amarah Nov. 15.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division leaders worked behind the scenes for weeks to bring together commanders from the 11th Border Enforcement, the 38th and 41st Iraqi Army Brigades and the Maysan Police.
The Long Knife Brigade assembled this group to share information on suspected criminal activity and plan future cooperative efforts to increase border security in the province.
"Up to this point, the border patrol, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army have done great work in securing the province," said Col. Philip Battaglia, commander of the Long Knife Brigade. "This conference represents a huge step toward synchronizing all those successes to close security gaps and secure the province as a whole."
Iraqi leaders were extremely pleased with the new level of cooperation and how the conference demonstrated the big picture to the provincial leaders.
"We are having great success, but since the province is such a large area to cover, we have to make sure our forces' locations are right with respect to each other," said Maj. Gen. Habib Taleb Abbas, 10th IA Div. commander.
Habib chaired the conference and offered time to other commanders to address their ideas for future cooperation among the rest of Iraq's security forces.
Security during Iraq's upcoming January election was a hot topic for the leaders.
"Working together starts with planning together," said Maj. Gen. Saad Harbiya, commander of Maysan's Police officers. He recommended another conference to solely focus on security for the election.
Three of the Long Knife Brigade's battalions are operating in Maysan. The 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, is partnered with the border patrol element to interdict munitions and arrest criminals crossing from Iran into Iraq. The 2nd Bn., 7th Cav. Regt., is partnered with the 38th IA Bde. and the 5th Bn., 82nd Field Artillery Regt., is partnered with the 41st IA Bde.
The Iraqi Security Forces in southern Iraq have arrested approximately 200 suspected criminals and seized more than 9,000 various munitions - to include improvised explosive device and explosively formed projectile materials since the Long Knife Brigade arrived this summer.