By Pfc. Justin Naylor, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsMarch 27, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq-Handing out the monthly paychecks to the Sons of Iraq may not be what infantryman and tankers are trained to do, but they do it with surprising speed and precision -- large lines of waiting Iraqis are processed quickly and receive their payment. This is a new type of mission for many of these previously deployed Soldiers, but it is one they are adapting to and taking pride in.
The Soldiers on today's mission are from Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and they are delivering the last Coalition Forces backed paycheck to the SoI in the outskirts of the city of Zaab March 3.
Co. A has been asked to perform many types of missions since entering Iraq. They have searched for weapons caches, overseen Iraqi Army checkpoints, they have even go from house to house just to ask the Iraqis if they need any help.
"[1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Soldiers] have adapted well to the new tasks that have asked of them," said Staff Sgt. David Soto, an infantry squad leader from 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. of Katy, Texas.
Our Soldiers understand the overall concept of what they are doing in the region, said 1st Lt. Gregory Birch, the Co. A executive officer of Clarksville, Tenn. They realize they are helping the Iraqis set up their government, and they are improving the quality of life in the towns in the region.
Working closely with the Iraqis and building their capability is a key idea behind the missions that Co. A Soldiers take part in.
Birch said whenever 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. goes out on missions, the IA are with them; whenever they go into a town or take part in functions like handing out SoI payment, the IA are there. 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Soldiers use their training and capability to show the IA the right way to perform missions and offer tricks and tips to help them be successful.
Since entering their area of operation, Co. A Soldiers have already noticed improvements.
"There have been less and less attacks," said Pvt. Jimmy Morales, a squad automatic weapon gunner for 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. of Mountain View, Ca..
The people in this region are realizing that we are here to help them, said Morales. We want them to have the confidence to talk to the IA or us if anything is going on that they need help with.
Training and practice through various missions has improved the confidence of the 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Soldiers and the IA they work with.
"Our company has the capability to be the best company in the brigade," said Birch. "Our work stands apart when it comes to our performance and operations."
The missions that 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. goes on will continue to challenge and hone the skills of its soldiers. Their work will continue to correspond closely with that of IA and between the two forces, they plan on seeing continued improvements in the region.