By 1st Lt. Dave Devine, 6th Sqdn., 9th Cav. Regt., 3rd AAB, 1st Cav. Div.May 30, 2011
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Soldiers from Comanche Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division - Center deployed to Joint Security Station Shield, in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, from 22 to 27 May to provide security for United States military and civilian personnel assigned to the Iraq Training and Assistance Mission (ITAM) during civilian demonstrations planned for May 26.
The 44 Comanche Troopers arrived by helicopter in the late evening hours of May 22, before staging at JSS Shield in order to provide reinforcements to the security contractors who already guard the base. JSS Shield lies in the shadow of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior building, and is home to the ITAM police headquarters and training facilities.
Upon arrival, Saber Troopers oriented themselves to the layout of JSS Shield, conducted coordination with force protection leaders, and prepared themselves to conduct security operations over the course of the week. As part of its mission to provide security for JSS Shield, C Troop stood in the path of nearly 25,000 Iraqi protestors throughout Sadr City and eastern Baghdad.
ITAM personnel, who provide training to Iraqi local and federal police elements, were able to assist Soldiers by providing riot control training; They also learned about the employment and capabilities of water cannons in civil unrest situations.
As the Saber Soldiers worked to secure JSS Shield, the resident Army and Air Force personnel ensured that troopers and leaders had everything needed for success. The JSS staff coordinated with C Troop to provide communications equipment, embedded Comanche's leadership into its state of the art surveillance center, and oversaw vital coordination with civilian security contractors. ITAM personnel also distributed care packages full of food and candy to Soldiers.
"[JSS Shield personnel] did everything they could to help us out with our mission," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Bellard, a section sergeant in 1st Platoon of Comanche Troop, and an El Paso, Texas native. "They were extremely nice to us and very appreciative that we were there for them."
Even while staged as a quick reaction force, the troopers found time to enjoy the Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities and movie theatre. Soldiers also rediscovered their love of Green Beans Coffee, which was conveniently collocated with Comanche's living quarters.
In appreciation for C Troop's efforts to provide additional security for JSS Shield, three Comanche Troopers were awarded coins emblazoned with JSS Shield's insignia by the facility's acting commander, Col. David M. Krall.
Spc. Mario Fabian, a Littlefalls, N.J. native, Spc. Coy Powell, a Brownsboro, Texas, native, and Pfc. Louis Love, a Bryan, Texas native, received their coins during a short ceremony in the JSS's conference room.
"It was awesome," said Powell after receiving his coin. "It's always nice to be appreciated for your efforts, and the leaders at Shield really wanted to recognize us for our hard work." Powell, a communications specialist assigned to Headquarters Plt. of Comanche Troop, was instrumental in establishing and maintaining C Troop's communications assets during the mission.
Comanche Troop remained at JSS Shield and successfully secured the facility from civilian demonstrations until the early morning of May 27, when the Troopers boarded helicopters for the return flight to Victory Base Complex.