By Sgt. Joshua Risner, MND-B PAOApril 28, 2009
BAGHDAD - The streets of Sadr City are quiet as Soldiers of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, patrol their sector. People go about their normal day-to-day lives; small groups of children gather and then disperse.
That's just how they prefer it, according to 2nd Lt. Matthew Morgan, a platoon leader with Co. B, 2nd Bn., 5th Cav. Regt. "We conduct presence patrols out here to discourage insurgent activity," the Bossier City, La. native said. "Whether it's us or it's one of the other platoons, somebody's out here every day doing this."
Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles deposit Co. B at their starting point. The troops dismount and secure the area before moving out.
The Soldiers patrol what are now familiar streets in their sector, sometimes with their Iraqi Army counterparts, sometimes on their own. "We're involved with the IA in our sector," said Morgan. "They've come a long way, but we still help them however and whenever we can."
At a turn in the route, they encounter a small group of older men sitting on a bench. Morgan walks over and with the help of his interpreter, engages them in conversation for a few minutes. "I do that to get a feel for what's going on in the community," he said. "I ask them about any problems they're having, whether it's electricity, sewage, or whatever."
Before the patrol can go much farther, a call comes out over the radio. An unmanned aerial vehicle has gone down and Co. B, being the closest unit to the crash site, has to recover it. They find a tall building in the vicinity and climb to the roof, where they can get a good look around. They identify a possible site and move to it. There they recover the aircraft, take down some witness statements and then continue the mission.
"If it's in our sector, we take care of it," said Cpl. Justin Hebert, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 5th Cav. Regt. "Then we Charlie Mike (continue mission)."
Co. B patrols on into the night, using night vision when the sun finally winks out of sight. Before heading back, they check in at the IA station. After an update on the IA's operations and some small talk, they head out.
When they finally make it back to Joint Security Station Sadr City, it is well past dark. The Soldiers down their gear and try to unwind while preparing for tomorrow, for another day will bring more of the same. "It's what we do," Morgan said, "and my guys do it well."
Soldiers in Co. B face a long and daunting mission fraught with perils inherent in a combat deployment. However, their continued presence in the area, augmented by daily patrols is helping to make Sadr City a safer place.