By Sgt. Justin Naylor, 2nd AAB PAO, 1st Cav. Div., USD-NJune 20, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq " As a new unit begins to take over an area from a unit rotating home, they can face a pretty steep learning curve; meeting local leaders, developing an understanding of the enemy in the area, and setting up routes for supplies are just some of the many things a unit has to consider. Fortunately, there is usually a wealth of information right there with them: the unit they are replacing.
For Cpt. Austin Commons, a Northfield, Vt., native and the commander of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Advise and Assist Brigade), 1st Cavalry Division, there could be no bigger asset to him as his unit begins working in a new area of operation than the commander he is replacing, Cpt. Brandon McConnell, a Knoxville, Tenn., native and the commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (Advise and Assist Brigade), 25th Infantry Division.
Every part of Iraq is different every time you come here, and what you saw in one area on your last deployment might not be anything like what you find in a new area you are working in, explained Commons.
This is what makes the transfer from a unit to its successors so important.
"Basically, it's to ensure we understand the ins and outs of the area we are working in," said Commons.
For the unit that is being replaced, a lot of thought must go into ensuring the transition goes smoothly.
"My platoon leaders and I sat down and looked at what topics we would want covered…what kind of things would we want to know coming on," said McConnell.
This unit wanted to do whatever it took to make sure the new unit is a success here, he continued.
As the new unit began arriving, McConnell's unit explained to them the area they would be working in and began introducing them to local leaders.
They also helped train the unit on tactics and procedures that had worked well for them over the last year, giving the new unit an even more solid foundation to build upon.
Fortunately, it wasn't hard to get Bravo Company ready for the mission they would be taking over.
"They came in aggressive and wanting to learn," said McConnell.
"They had a lot of information to give us," said Commons. "Rather than starting from scratch, [we] can take the work they've done and build on it."
With a years worth of work under their belt, Charlie Company goes home knowing it will not go to waste.
"I'm sure he will face the same challenges I did, if not more," McConnell said of Commons. "But they are going to be a success. I have no problem handing over what Charlie Company has accomplished here to Bravo Company."
Although their work here is just beginning, Bravo Company enters this area with all the knowledge of the unit before them, and is well prepared to assist their Iraqi partners and take on the mission at hand.