CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRAH, Iraq -- As the United States Forces-Iraq mission transitions, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division continue to focus on conducting force protection missions. Part of those missions is ensuring that the Iraqi Security Forces are able to take over the missions as the re-posturing of USF-I continues.

These missions, like many others in Iraq, are joint missions with the ISF and USF-I working together whenever possible. One such mission is route clearance. Due to a lack of training and proper equipment, this mission had only been conducted by U.S. Soldiers. Now, thanks to the arrival of new equipment, and the efforts of the 3rd AAB's stability transition teams, the 'Charger' battalion's route clearance patrols will be conducted as joint efforts between ISF and USF-I.

Combat engineers attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, recently conducted joint training and the first partnered route clearance patrol between USF-I and the Iraqi Army in Basrah province. The training consisted of a segment from Contingency Operating Base Basrah's explosive ordinance disposal unit on collection of evidence and types of ordinance, and from the engineers on how to use the interrogation arm on the IA's route clearance vehicle.

Following the training, the U.S. and IA engineers set out on a partnered route clearance patrol. For the Iraqis, the mission marked a milestone in the IA's ability to protect its own force and people. But, for U.S. Soldiers, the mission was a chance to conduct training while also performing a mission vital to the protection of USF-I operating in the Basrah province.

Route clearance is a vital mission performed by engineers which ensures mobility of military and civilian vehicles on the roads of Basrah. As the U.S. mission in Iraq changes; enabling the ISF to conduct route clearance of their own helps with route security vital to freedom of movement on Iraqi highways.