By Spc. L.B. EdgarFebruary 12, 2007
KADAMIYAH, Baghdad (Army News Service, Feb. 12, 2007) - The sudden clap of a firearm's discharge prompts the split-second reaction of paratroopers patrolling the volatile streets of Iraq's capital on foot. From behind urban cover - a car, a corner or even a light post - they meticulously scan their interlocking sectors of fire to ensure 360-degree security for the platoon conducting a presence patrol.
Thanks to a revamped strategy to quell sectarian violence throughout Baghdad, the paratroopers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, attached to 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., are spending more time on the streets of the Hurriyah neighborhood, within the Baghdad's Kadamiyah district.
The paratroopers, who stood up the Hurriyah Joint Security Station in just three days with the help of combat engineers, have moved into the neighborhood and are making their presence felt, said Maj. Michael Shaw, company commander.
With the Iraqi police already living in the JSS, Iraqi national police residing nearby and an Iraqi army battalion of Kurdish troops en route, the JSS is becoming somewhat of a joint operations headquarters, Shaw said.
"We're here to help establish a JSS in order to give the IA, IPs, NPs and the coalition forces a common operating picture of the battlefield and the ability to be more proactive with the security of Iraq," Shaw said. "We're here to help the Iraqi security forces establish security and maintain the security (to) eventually allow (them) to take complete control of all the security within Baghdad."
Since the security of Baghdad is the focus of the mission, the paratroopers of the Hurriyah JSS are hopeful that working in the community will pay dividends in intelligence. The paratroopers recently moved into the neighborhood and the residents of Hurriyah have not been forthcoming, thus far, with useful information, Shaw said.
"The local population is under the influence of a local militia and is unwilling to speak with, or cooperate with coalition forces," he said.
However that does not mean the paratroopers are not giving the residents every opportunity to come forward.
To increase interaction with the local populace and let them know they are there to stay, the paratroopers conduct frequent joint, presence patrols of the Hurriyah neighborhood with their Iraqi partners, Eckenrode said.
"When we feel they're ready, then we can turn it over to them. But right now, we're here to help them out and shape their environment," Eckenrode said.
The paratroopers are also engaging leaders of the community in an effort to foster a positive relationship between the Iraqi security forces and the residents of Hurriyah, Eckenrode said.
Command leaders of Co. A met with the Hurriyah's Neighborhood Advisory Council for the first time. The NAC includes many of the community's civic, military and religious leaders, who the paratroopers would like to work with on more proactive security measures in the neighborhood, Shaw said.
By engaging the community's leaders and making their presence felt, the paratroopers are confident they will obtain useful intelligence, which can then be used for operations to drive out insurgent and terrorist organizations, Shaw said.
"We're living with Iraqi security forces. We're doing joint patrols with them and we're basically providing the example, the know-how and also, in some areas, the resources for the Iraqis to provide their own security, so we can come home," Shaw said.
(Spc. L.B. Edgar writes for the 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)