By Maj. Stephen Holt, 2nd HBCT, 3rd ID Public AffairsNovember 12, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Major General Anthony Cucolo, Task Force Marne Commanding General, along with senior leaders from Multi-National Force-Iraq and Multi-National Corps-Iraq, spoke to leaders of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division while they attended the Counterinsurgency School in Taji, Iraq, Nov. 6-7.
The COINSOC is an academy designed to teach commanders current techniques used by units in theater, and familiarize them with activities happening within their area of operations.
Its curriculum includes basic language skills, rule of law, logistics, information operations, and counter-improvised explosive devise.
As part of their five-day curriculum, senior-ranking Army leaders in Iraq visited the Spartans where they presented strategic overviews of their area of operations and emphasized the importance of partnering with Iraqi Security Forces.
"Over the next 12 months our mission will evolve and our formations will change," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said. "But make no mistake, the actions of Task Force Marne units in this strategically important area of responsibility will, in fact, impact the future of Iraq as well as current U.S. strategic objectives."
General Ray Odierno, Multi-National Force-Iraq Commanding General, praised the Iraqi Security Forces ability to maintain control of their cities after U.S. forces withdrew on June 30. He expressed confidence in the ability of the ISF to continue their success throughout Iraq during the upcoming elections.
"We now face a dynamic period of transition as the government of Iraq undertakes political change while our forces adjust their footprint across the country," Gen. Odierno said. "As members of a joint and coalition team, we and our Iraqi partners continue to conduct full-spectrum operations, to build a stable, fully sovereign and increasingly prosperous Iraq."
Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby, Commanding General Multi-National Corps-Iraq, said that the June 30 mandate helped the Iraqis recognize their true sovereignty.
It forced the ISF and U.S. forces to work toward combined arms operations, transparency between the forces, and set the conditions for an enduring partnership.
"As partners, you're spending more time with the ISF before the mission and after the mission than you are in the mission," Lt. Gen. Jacoby said. "I think that's a fundamental difference in how we used to work with them. Your focus will be in training them, in assisting them, and providing direct support to provincial reconstruction teams."
Lieutenant General Jacoby said that Spartan Brigade's support for the parliamentary elections in January and follow-on government is critical for shaping the Iraq strategic environment and troop drawdown in 2010.
"I see the people of Iraq as having a big chasm in front of them - they're right at the edge of it," Lt. Gen. Jacoby said. "If they jump across to the other side, they will have some form of democracy and democratic Iraq that's able to partner strategically with the United States. They're going to need some help to take that leap, and they're going to do it on your watch.
"Everyday, remind your Soldiers them of the difference they're making. It's a good thing for them not to kick down a door - that is success. If it's an Iraqi Soldier kicking down a door, that's really good success. And, if he's got a warrant in his hand while he's doing it, that's nirvana," Lt. Gen. Jacoby said. "Help your guys understand the difference they're making. Help them understand the power of what they're doing in successfully closing out this mission the way we need to. None of our enemies ever thought this would happen. They were counting on us to fail. The soldiers of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team are here at a terrific time that is decisive for our country and decisive for Iraq...for those who served here before, it should be a gratifying experience."
Command Sergeant Major Frank Grippe, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, said he sees the upcoming months while 2nd HBCT is in Iraq as being the most important since the surge for making the conflict in Iraq successful.
"This nine months you're going to be here and beyond, it's going to be the most important nine months of this fight," Command Sgt. Maj. Grippe said. "It's the hard work you're going to do as the combat leaders of this brigade and our sons and daughters in your battle space doing the mission that will make us successful."