By Sgt. David Strayer 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment U.S. Division-North Public AffairsJuly 27, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq " The newly expanded Combined Security Force conducted its first patrol as a full-strength element with members of 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, manning an outer security cordon in villages north of Kirkuk City, Iraq, July 19.
Soldiers of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st AATF, served in a support-only role, standing by to provide assistance if requested by the eCSF ground commander, Capt. Ahmmad.
“This patrol served several purposes,” said 1st Sgt. Steven Sierras, senior enlisted leader of Company A, 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., 1st AATF. “It was much more than a normal patrol; it gave the new additions to the (eCSF) some experience out in sector, which is important, and it boosts their confidence level.”
The final company of eCSF members recently graduated from training and joined the ranks of the force known as the “Golden Lions.”
“With that company’s graduation, the (eCSF) has a full battalion of trained, up-to-speed guys from the Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army, and the Kurdish Regional Guard; they all bring something different to the table,” said Sierras, a native of Martinez, Calif. “That is one of the things that makes them so flexible and mission-capable out here.”
Now a full strength, battalion-sized combined element with their own base for operations in the Combined Security Area and Kirkuk City, the Golden Lions assumed sole responsibility for the safety and security in the area, allowing U.S. forces to now remain in a “back seat” role, lending support or assistance only if requested.
“This patrol was mostly a presence patrol for the (eCSF) to give them the opportunity to get out in sector and let the citizens see them in action,” said Sgt. Michael McCormick, a squad leader with Company A, 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt. “It’s reassuring when you can show the citizens that they have a capable force there to protect and look out for them.”
“We were really there to just pull outer security for them and be there in case they needed us since this was their first patrol as a battalion,” he added. “They did very well; they really didn’t need us there.”
In recent months, U.S. forces transitioned to an advisory role in the security of Kirkuk province as the Golden Lions became a fully functional battalion.
“Getting out there amongst the people, however, is just as important as anything else,” said Sierras. “The citizens in the Combined Security Area now know that there is a capable, combined force present and tangible in their villages, and they can feel safer as a result.”