By Spc. Roland HaleJanuary 17, 2011
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers working in an Army aviation brigade's human resources section have been busy since they deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq, last March.
Assigned to the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., the human resource specialists are responsible for tending to the personnel issues of nearly 4,000 soldiers.
The brigade became the Army's only aviation brigade in Iraq this summer, as well as the Army's first enhanced combat aviation brigade. For the human resources section, the increased responsibility means more work.
Since last March, the section has processed nearly 3,000 end of tour awards and completed around 1,500 other personnel actions. Also, the section's ID card office has addressed over 5,000 ID card issues.
The section also manages a full spectrum of personnel issues, from finances to official records.
"We run the gamut of human resources work that you'd see in any major corporation," said Maj. Roger D. Carroll, officer in charge of the section.
The end of combat operations has not changed the nature of the section's business, said Carroll, a native of St. Louis, Mo.
"Paperwork is paperwork, and while we're now in stability operations, it's still inherently dangerous, so we still process combat related actions," he said.
The section has processed four Purple Hearts and around 50 Combat Action Badges so far this deployment, he said.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eddie Molina, a native of Orlando, Fla., is also on his second tour to Iraq. Like Carroll, Molina agrees that not much has changed from a personnel perspective.
"We come to work every day just like we did last deployment. Soldiers need help regardless," he said.
"In some ways we've even been busier this time," said Molina. "When we transitioned to Operation New Dawn this summer, we had to keep a tight cap on our personnel."
During the U.S. military's drawdown to 50,000 personnel in Iraq, the unit's strength managers were required to give daily reports to U.S. Forces-Iraq, the military's highest headquarters here, concerning the amount of troops they had in the country.
"We had to explain every person over a certain percentage," said Pfc. Joey LaMura, who works in the section's strength management office.
"I give a daily snapshot of where our people are at across Iraq," said LaMura, a native of Tampa, Fla.
That responsibility was paramount during the drawdown, said LaMura. His tally of the brigade's personnel, combined with the unit's projected gains and losses of personnel were used to help the drawdown.
The human resources section will return to Fort Riley, Kan., this spring, where its work load will remain heavy as the unit transitions back into a stateside environment, said LaMura.
"We're scheduled to have a lot of personnel changes when we get back," said LaMura. "Just because we'll be at Fort Riley won't mean we're done, just different offices."