BAGHDAD - Checkpoints are a vital tool in maintaining security in an area, and thanks to the joint efforts of U.S. and Iraqi forces another checkpoint was opened to maintain the security in a western neighborhood in the Iraqi capital.

Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood, Texas, are in charge of the security of Ameriyah. The newest checkpoint established in Ameriyah is an exit-only checkpoint for vehicular traffic. Vehicles entering this area of Ameriyah have to go through the other checkpoint with the proper paperwork.

Even though it is an exit-only checkpoint, vehicles leaving the neighborhood get searched for contraband. The checkpoint is also open to pedestrians, giving another option to local citizens to get to their destinations.

"They (pedestrians) still have to be searched, but it basically provides another way for people to get in and out of Ameriyah," said Jefferson City native 1st Lt. Tyler Stegeman, the platoon leader of 2nd Platoon, Co. D, whose battalion operates in western Baghdad attached to the 2nd Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division. "For people living in one side of Ameriyah it was kind of a hassle to go from one side to the other, so this conveniences them a little bit."

At first, there was only one entry/exit checkpoint, and this caused a problem for the security in Ameriyah.

"You have people in this checkpoint, but if you don't have people in the other one, then you have a lot of things that slip through the cracks," said Stegeman.

Another feature of the newest checkpoint is the women's search team. All the women in the team are part of the local volunteer group, Forsan Al Rafideen (which, in Arabic means "knights of the river"), who are area residents united for a better Ameriyah.

"That's one way the Iraqis have stepped up," said Stegeman. "In other checkpoints, we have one U.S. Army female searcher and a couple of Iraqi female searchers."

For merchants who want to pass merchandise in through the exit checkpoint, for what ever the reason, they can do it by hand trucks, and after the merchandise gets inspected, they can put it in a vehicle within Ameriyah and drive it to their respective shops.

"The people of Ameriyah are enjoying this freedom, this peace," said Stegeman. "Right now, they're content. Obviously there're some people who aren't happy with it, however, even those people understand, after talking to them, this is providing them a peace they haven't seen in months or even years."