By Staff Sgt. Jason Douglas, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsJune 23, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - As part of the Security Agreement signed between the United States and Iraq on January 1, 2009, all operations conducted within Iraq must be led by Iraqi Security Forces with US forces in support. That includes regular security patrols, which serve to support stability in a village or town and also serves to strengthen the bond between Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry teamed up with Iraqi soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 47th Iraqi Army Brigade and made the drive to Gumbaltar for the patrol June 8.
According to 2nd Lt. Christopher Freeman, Sheburne, Vt. native, and fire support officer with 1st Bn., 8th Cav Regt., the purpose behind the patrol was more than just to show partnership between the IA and Coalition forces.
"We meet and greet the residents of Gumbaltar to find out how we can help," Freeman said. "But, it is also an opportunity to observe the IA function."
Soldiers from 3rd platoon, 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. have been working with the 1st Bn., 47th IA Brigade since 2nd BCT arrived in Kirkuk and, according to Freeman, part of that partnership has been training the IA to function on its own.
"The relationship between us [Coalition forces] and the IA has come around and gotten better," Freeman said. "By going on these patrols we can find out how to support each other with better training."
Freeman said his unit has been involved in training the IA on conducting vehicle searches, clearing buildings, and setting up traffic control points, with the goal of helping the IA perform these tasks on their own.
"We want them to be successful in order to protect their fellow Iraqis," Freeman explained. "They [the IA] have indicated they truly care about their population and show that by better coordinating security with the Iraqi Police and recognizing the benefits of our training."
It was the first combined patrol for Lt. Mehvan Islam Hussein, a personnel officer with the 1st Bn., 47th IA, who was optimistic about the partnership.
"This is my first time on patrol with U.S. forces, but I feel it is very useful in building our confidence and hope it continues," Mehvan said. "It also helps by showing the population that the Iraqi Army is here to help them."
Mehvan also stated that the benefits of training with U.S. forces will help them fulfill these duties once U.S. forces are gone.
The village [Gumbaltar] is primarily Turcoman and many of the soldiers in the 1st Bn., 47th IA who operate in this area are Arab, this will build their trust in them, Mehvan said.
According to Freeman, the combined patrols and training with the IA will continue, and already he has recognized an increase in their abilities.
"They [IA] are well on their way to functioning on their own," Freeman said.