BAGHDAD, Iraq (Feb. 29, 2008) -- At the request of the imam of the Balad Shrine Mosque, Soldiers from the 2nd platoon of the 164th Military Police Company, 728th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade and Multi National Division - North visited the mosque Feb. 24 to increase its protection and prevent future attacks on the site.

The Soldiers were the first coalition forces to be granted permission to visit the mosque.

The Soldiers of the 2nd platoon have worked with the imam and other local religious leaders for eight months, and have developed a good working relationship that has resulted in frequent requests for additional security assistance during events near the shrine, said Capt. Matthew Norris, the 164th commander.

Soldiers, Iraqi Police and National police in Balad have worked together to place approximately 160 protective barriers around the mosque.

"The Soldiers received many favorable comments from the Iraqi Police and local populace who continue to see the coalition forces working with the Iraqi security forces to improve security in Balad," said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Wogomon, 2nd platoon sergeant.

The 18th Military Police Brigade is a U.S. Army Europe unit headquartered in Mannheim, Germany.