By 1st Lt. Benjamin Roberts, 890th Eng. Bn., 926th Eng. Bde.February 19, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers of the 848th Engineer Company, know the importance of staying focused on their mission and the evolving relationship between Coalition Forces and the Government of Iraq.
Understanding the dynamic environment in which they work, "Cobra" engineers, based out of Douglas, Ga., execute daily missions and training to stay on the fight's leading edge.
With the implementation of the Security Agreement, signed in Jan. 1, the Soldiers see their route clearance missions as considerably more valuable to the Iraqi population. Now, they hunt for and clear roadways of improvised explosive devices not only for Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, but more importantly, for the Iraqi public.
The Security Agreement set strict guidelines for U.S. Forces operating in Iraq and requires increased partnership between the Coalition and ISF. Each "Cobra" Soldier understands that every action has a direct impact on the trust the Iraq people place in the ISF and GOI, places professional conduct high on their list.
"It's the small stuff that builds trust among the local Iraqis, and by empowering the ISF, the people see their guys out there working for them," explained 1st Lt. Jason Clark, from Marietta, Ga.
Enemy IED attacks pose an ever-present threat to route clearance patrols, and work as a team to overcome potential obstacles. The company depends on rehearsals to keep their Soldiers' decision making process sharp and reinforce the Security Agreements rules.
"Rehearsals are a key part of keeping the Soldiers focused in what they do on a regular basis, it's all about keeping them on their toes" said Sgt. 1st Class James McMillan, a platoon sergeant with 848th Eng. Co. and a native of Waycross, Ga.
It's the confidence and teamwork derived from these battle drills that keep the "Cobras" going, despite the dangers they may face.
"It's nice to know that if I ever get in a bind, the rest of my platoon is able to react and get me out safely and quickly," said Spc. Neil Brunnel, mine clearing vehicle operator from Douglas, Ga. "I believe that rehearsals are just as important as any other thing that we do because you have to be prepared for anything to happen. By rehearsing, you learn how to react quickly and have a better chance of success."