By Sgt. Joshua Risner, MND-B PAOApril 24, 2009
BAGHDAD - Sunlight is fading in Sadr City as Soldiers of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, along with Iraqi Soldiers with 2nd Co., 3rd Bn., 42nd Iraqi Army Division, move down streets lined with houses in an effort to keep the city safer.
"We're essentially trying to hit target houses and known bed-down locations of bad guys," said Greensboro, Ga., native 1st Lt. Mark Reinke, a platoon leader with Charlie Co.
At pre-planned locations, they knock on doors and enter with the permission of the inhabitants to look for contraband, intelligence and people of interest.
"We do a lot of cordon-pretty much knock, and searches to try to get all the weapons out of the area because [Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki] said that no weapons are allowed in Sadr City," Reinke said. "So by taking the weapons, we're trying to keep the streets safer."
Taking weapons off the streets has more value to security than just keeping them out of insurgent hands, Reinke explained. "In the past, we've had family feuds spill onto the streets which sometimes involved shooting," he said.
The search yielded promising leads and positive results at a few locations.
"We found a photo album with pictures we believe to be of a bad guy we are looking for. Now we have his picture so maybe we can get a better positive ID of him," Reinke explained. "We also found a weapon on a guy who claimed to be an Iraqi Policeman, who is believed to be working with a target we are trying to find, so we're using that to help build a case."
In addition to finding results during search operations, the patrols conducted by C Co. Soldiers have positive effects on the community, according to Reinke.
"We provide a presence both night and day in the area to hopefully deter anybody from doing something they would really regret in the future," he said.
Soldiers of 2-5 Cav., most of whom are tankers by trade, have largely abandoned their tanks in favor of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles and their feet to get them where they need to go.
"These guys are tankers but to operate in these conditions, you have to be on the ground and that's what they do," said 1st Sgt. Glenn Aldrich from Houston. "I've been in the Army for 21 years and I've never had a group of Soldiers as good as the ones I have right now ... to be doing what they're doing the way they're doing it."
For the troops of C Co., the missions in Sadr City may not be what they are normally accustomed to, but they take to it with determination and excellence, according to Spc. Jimmy Howard, a Dallas native with C Co.
"We, and pretty much all of combat-arms Soldiers, are doing the job of an infantryman and a [military policeman] because that's what the mission requires," he said. "Whatever it takes to get the mission done, we'll do it."
The sun has already set as C Co. troops make it back to Joint Security Station Comanche, their home away from home in the Iraqi urban jungle. They are sweaty and they are tired but they have accomplished their mission for the day. Now they will get some sleep and prepare for the next opportunity to keep their sector safe.