By Sgt. Coltin Heller 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment USD-N Public AffairsJuly 11, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq " When deployed, even a seemingly simple task such as clearing brush around a base enhances security and increases protection for troops operating in the area.
Sergeant Cody Stevens, a heavy equipment operator assigned to Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, earned the title of “Ironhorse Strong” Soldier of the Week for clearing out areas obscured by overgrown brush around Contingency Operating Base Warhorse, June 18 - 22.
Stevens, a native of Salem, Ore., used a flamethrower known as a terra-torch to conduct terrain denial operations around COB Warhorse and expand visibility on areas outside the perimeter.
"He burned all the dead space around Warhorse to give the towers higher visibility if hostiles try and approach the (Contingency Operating Base)," said 1st Sgt. Walter Rogers, senior enlisted advisor with Company C.
The operation required Stevens, while wearing protective gear, to endure daily temperatures in excess of 110 degrees, which increased to 130 degrees while using the torching system, as he cleared five kilometers of vegetation, preventing possible enemy infiltration.
"Now, no one can come within 100 meters of the base without being seen," said Rogers, who calls Lawton, Okla., home. "If (enemies) can't get close, then they can't launch attacks … or gather intelligence."
Stevens’ actions directly resulted in improved fields of fire for perimeter guards, as well as giving quick reactionary forces a greater operating range.
"This benefits everyone on the COB," said Rogers, about the brush burning. "It gives (force protection) more time to react, less places for us to be attacked from."
Stevens also stands out as a “jack-of-all-trades” Soldier, doing other jobs in addition to his regular duties as a heavy equipment operator, Rogers said.
"He's and outstanding NCO, and a great team leader," said Rogers. "He does route clearance, force protection, as well as terrain removal. He does it all.”