Recon of polling sites
Four women from Najaf, Iraq, walk down the street as Soldiers from C Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, drive past during a reconnaissance mission, Dec. 3. The Soldiers were checking out polling sites in the area, recording their locatio... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Dec. 17, 2009) -- With the Iraqi national elections approaching, U.S. Soldiers are preparing to support the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police while remaining in the background.

The Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, who are responsible for assisting Iraqi forces in and around Najaf, Iraq, take that mission very seriously.

The actual coordination and facilitation of the elections for Najaf has been organized by the Najaf Iraqi Police and the 3rd Battalion, 30th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army, said Capt. Neil Penttila, commander, C Company, 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt., whose company is currently stationed at Forward Operating Base Endeavor outside Najaf.

"We try to stay in the background whenever necessary," Penttila said. "It's the Iraqi plan. We're incorporated into that plan as a safety net. We go on their command."

During the elections, the U.S. battalion will be providing enablers to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. They will also be ready to provide support at the Iraqi commander's request.

As part of a reconnaissance mission, Soldiers of C Company traveled to various polling sites in Najaf, Dec. 3, recording their locations and ensuring they will be accessible during the elections.

Penttila said he feels confident in the capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces in Najaf, and that his confidence extends to his Soldiers' readiness if they are called.

(Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick serves with the 3rd HBCT Public Affairs Office.)