By Spc. Samuel Soza, Task Force Danger Public AffairsJune 5, 2010
AL-TANUMA, Iraq - Soldiers with the 14th Iraqi Army Division's 52nd Brigade conducted a series of searches dubbed Operation Carpet Ride May 29, 2010. Using U.S. intelligence, the Soldiers had an important target: an alleged bomb-making factory.
The operation marked the early stages of the relationship between the 14th IA Division and the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, which began in early May when the Fort Carson, Colo., based arrived in the Iraqi theatre.
The operation was conducted by both, U.S. and Iraqi forces, including Navy 'Riverine' sailors and air weapons support from Contingency Operating Base Adder.
"That was the first time that [1st Bn., 68th Arm. Regt.] has taken more of a role with the 52nd Brigade than [us]," said Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Callahan, operations noncommissioned officer with Military Transition Team 5214, and a native of Wichita, Kan.
Teams of Iraqi soldiers maintained a secure perimeter while others knocked on residents' doors and talked to locals, searched premises, and followed up on tips given anonymously. No evidence of the bomb factory was found, but a few weapons were confiscated.
Soldiers with 1st Bn., 68th Arm. Regt. also met up with the 52nd IA Battalion the day prior to train them with metal detectors at the request of the unit's commander.
The Iraqi soldiers are accustomed to working with U.S. forces for training in essential mission skills, said Callahan.
"They are always agreeing to do classes," he said. "They always send people to attend them. They are always willing to learn. Overall, it's been good [working together]."
In the coming weeks MiTT 5214 will be joining the efforts of similar transition teams in familiarizing their Iraqi partners with the M16 assault rifle.
"Right now, the big thing across all the MiTT teams is doing the train-the-trainer on the M16," Callahan said. "They are going to train them on how to zero their M16s, qualify, and run a range."
Mid-June the Iraqi soldiers will be qualifying on ranges run by other Iraqi soldiers.
Despite the constant coming and going of U.S. forces as they drawdown in number, the partnership between American and Iraqi soldiers continues to strengthen the Iraqi Army slowly but surely, Callahan said.
"The changes have been subtle, but in the long run, it will be good - all the little things will add up to something big," he said.