By By Pfc. Kimberly Hackbarth 4th SBCT PAO, 2nd Inf. Div.January 23, 2010
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - A sea of unit patches hovered around a Shadow unmanned aerial system, readying it for flight.
"LAUNCH! LAUNCH! LAUNCH!" barked a Soldier on a headset.
A button was pushed and the UAS took off from its launcher in a blur.
Behind all the action were Soldiers from several different units who had come together here to make the mission in Iraq a success with shared workloads and equipment, responsibilities, and experience.
"The 'one team, one fight' concept really takes place here," said Sgt. Carlos Salamanca, the maintenance noncommissioned officer-in-charge and shift leader for 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Mountain Division and native of San Antonio. "I don't know many other places where this takes place."
Salamanca works with Sgt. Michael Heimdale, a crew chief with Troop D, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Heimdale recently arrived at his unit and said he felt welcomed into the combined force, made up of mostly sergeants and above.
"We respect rank but work together as equals," said Heimdale, a Cushing, Okla., native.
Both sergeants agree that with all the units combined, the workload isn't as hard on the Soldiers and allows them more personal time to recover from a work day.
Another benefit of sharing a work space is the consolidated assets like the Shadow, they said. Sharing equipment allows the units to replace parts if needed to support the mission.
Each unit takes care of its equipment, but all units share responsibility for upkeep on the site, explained Salamanca.
The NCOs in charge at the site verify that all standards, such as cleanliness of the workspace and maintenance of equipment, are the same for all the units. The units combined the standards sometime ago in order to keep them the same; considered necessary for learning in a combined environment.
Salamanca, who has been working with UASs since 2004, said every time he deploys overseas, he learns new things from different people.
"We share experiences, which help the learning process for new Soldiers," said Salamanca;
It's these common experiences that promote common purpose, according to Heimdale. "We all wear the same uniform. It's all about unit cohesion; we're all the same Army."