By Lt. Col. Pat Simon, 225 Eng. Bde. PAO, MND-BJuly 20, 2009
BAGHDAD - The 225th Engineer Brigade Command Security Team rumbles out on another mission July 15. This time, it's a late night run to Zafaraniya to check on force protection at the Joint Security Station there.
A report blasted over the headphones: "Two [improvised explosive devices] found in vicinity of ...."
The IEDs were off the path of the 225th ground assault convoy, but these Soldiers know to stay sharp as threat conditions remain active.
Over five months into their deployment in Baghdad, the 225th's CST has achieved major milestones: over 80 ground missions, 3,000 miles traveled, no equipment lost, and more importantly, every Soldier returned safe and sound.
"That's the most rewarding part every time we return knowing that I accomplished my mission by getting everyone back to Victory Base Complex safely," said Sgt. 1st Class Chad McNeal, 225th CST noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Marksville, La.
McNeal selected dozens of Soldiers from various backgrounds like engineer surveyors, carpenters, truck drivers, equipment operators, and medical staff and turned them into top notch security team members.
"Our aggressiveness obviously sets us apart," said McNeal. "We always have active turrets, an active convoy, and keep a defensive posture."
That aggressive posture was duly noted on the night move.
"Okay, pop open the hatch," said Staff Sgt. Tommy Allen, Baton Rouge, La. Shocker truck commander after the convoy reached an area known for increased enemy attacks.
Sgt. Kyle Clark, Hammond, La., and Spc. Ryan Custis, Tioga, La., jump into 360 degree security positions.
"Group of males at 3 o'clock," yelled Clark.
"Got it," replied Custis as the security pair scouted for suspicious activity.
It is not just the convoy team that deserves credit for the success of the 225th CST. "I give great credit to the brigade intelligence team for excellent threat briefings before every mission, said McNeal. "Their dedication to the mission at hand has greatly contributed to our success."
Cross-training on every position also keeps the CST members focused, and camaraderie keeps morale up.
"They volunteered to join the CST," said 225th Eng. Bde. Command Sgt. Major Joe Major, Ventress, La., "They eat together, do PT (physical training) together, and train together. They have bonded and that makes the difference."
On this latest mission, the late night return ride was bumpy and dusty, but one thing was very clear: another safe mission was in the books.
"It's a testament to our leadership," said Clark who has been on nearly all of the security convoys. "But I also think a lot of it is God's providence."