Saturday, March 24, 2007

Battle Buddies

Iraqi Soldiers, U.S. troops build relations during foot patrol

21 March 2007
Courtesy of Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp
1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

KEM, Iraq — Iraqi Army Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) and U.S. Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment went on a joint foot patrol in the villages surrounding Kem, Iraq Saturday afternoon.

While on patrol, Iraqi Soldiers and U.S. Soldiers paired up in two man “battle buddy” teams so they could observe each others techniques and get to know their counterpart better.

The American Soldiers said they were impressed with how observant the Iraqi Soldiers were when they pulled security.

“This is a really sharp group, they really know their stuff and they’re really squared away,” said Sgt. Jerrod Border.

Their mission was to meet the villagers and to hand out fliers explaining how the people could protect themselves against the threats of improvised explosive device attacks.

“I prefer doing missions like this one where we actually can see first hand the long term benefits,” said Pfc. Jeremy Stone. “A lot of times when we go on routine patrols, it’s hard to see exactly how we’re making a difference, but working with the Iraqi Army and seeing them do their part to help end the violence here and protect the people is a great feeling.”

It is important to build trust with the Iraqi people because it fosters better relations with Coalition forces who can provide beneficial information resources, said Border.

“Sometimes there are people who are a little afraid to talk to us because they may feel the insurgents are watching and may harm them,” he said. “But for the most part, the people want us here and everyday things are getting better.

“The Iraqi Army is getting better at what they do every day,” said Cpt. Scott Hequembourg. “The people in the villages are getting friendlier and most of them just want to have a good life. Our biggest goal is to help the Iraqi security forces train up to where they can protect the people and eventually U.S. forces can leave."

Photo: An Iraqi Army Soldier makes friends with an Iraqi boy, March 17, during a foot patrol near the village of Kem, Iraq. The boy rushed over to show the Soldier a fish he had caught. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.

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