Two soldiers from B Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, rest outside of a barbershop, Feb. 29, while village children pass to say hello along the main road in the village of Abayachi during a village assessment mission. (Photographer: Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 2nd Stryker Brigade 25th Infantry Division.)Soldiers from the Company C, 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, talk to two local men, Feb. 29, about the conditions of a village water pump, on the banks of the Tigris River, in the village of Abayachi, which is located north of Baghdad, during the first day of a village assessment mission. (Photographer: Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 2nd Stryker Brigade 25th Infantry Division.)
Staff Sgt. Alex Francis, a Lawrenceville, Ga., native who serves as a psychological operations team leader for the 312th PsyOps Company, attached to the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, talks with a local Shia man from the village of Abayachi, north of Baghdad, about political and living conditions in the town during a village assessment mission Feb. 29. (Photographer: Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 2nd Stryker Brigade 25th Infantry Division.)Col. Mike Bridges, an Anchorage, Alaska, native who serves as the deputy team leader and governance advisor for the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team embedded with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, takes notes while other soldiers talk to locals, Feb. 29, at one of the pump stations at the village of Abayachi, north of Baghdad during a village assessment mission. (Photographer: Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 2nd Stryker Brigade 25th Infantry Division.)Soldiers from the C Company, 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, talk to two local men about the conditions of a village water pump on the banks of the Tigris River in the village of Abayachi Feb. 29 during the first day of a village assessment mission. (Photographer: Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 2nd Stryker Brigade 25th Infantry Division.)D
ispatches from the Front:
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, March 8, 2008 -- For the first time since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, villagers in the town of Abayachi watched as soldiers from several Multi-National Division – Baghdad units convoyed through their streets in Strykers and up-armored Humvees, Feb. 28.
The following day, soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, as well as elements from Company C, 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion; the 312th Psychological Operational Company; the 411th Military Police Company, 716th MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade; and the brigade’s embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, set out to assess the village’s infrastructure.
Their visit also afforded them the opportunity to ask local residents a series questions, as well as provide them some answers, as they inquired about the possible future for the village.
“This is the first time anyone from the [coalition forces] have been here [in Abayachi] in sometime, so this is really a new opportunity, a new mission and brand new territory," said Col. Mike Bridges, an Anchorage, Alaska, native, who serves as the deputy team leader and the governance advisor for the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team working with the 2nd SBCT, 25th Inf. Div.
The village of Abayachi is located several hours north of Baghdad. At one time, it housed former members of the Baath party. Since the beginning of combat operations in Iraq in 2003, it has been relatively untouched, explained Bridges.
The village assessment took place over the course of three days and focused on the people’s needs as opposed to combat operations.
“This mission specifically is very exploratory in nature,” said Bridges. "The company has come out from the battalion to assess the conditions at Abayachi, and I’m looking at the Nahia and the essential services for our team to see where we can apply the resources of our team to rebuild the community."
While the patrol is composed of specialized assessment teams working toward a common goal, the different components each had their own missions to accomplish.
One team set out to gather atmospherics on possible concerns related to security and the local economy. It also gathered information to get a feel for their perceptions of coalition forces, the Iraqi police, the Iraqi army and the Iraqi and local governments, said Staff Sgt. Alex Francis, a Lawrenceville, Ga., native, who serves as a Psychological Operations team leader with the 312th PYSOP Company, attached to 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Regt.
"This particular town hasn’t had much coalition presence, so there’s a lot of points that we wanted to make like (improvised-explosive device) threats and see if the people have them, “ said Francis. “This is one where I hope to come back to because this is relatively un-touched ground.
There have been few engagements by Americans, he added. As such, it is basically an untainted territory, which provides the MND-B soldiers an opportunity to “start from scratch.”
During the visit, Francis spoke with a local resident at a gas station and explained to him some of the reasons the MND-B soldiers were visiting the area.
“I was explaining why the Americans were here because we’re kind of a spectacle coming in here because we had so many convoys coming in and helicopters in the air the whole time,” he explained.
Francis said he also spoke with the man about the benefits of the Sons of Iraq (Abna al-Iraq) and the value they add to the security of the area.
"He had some interesting things to say,” said Francis, adding that the man was very open and friendly.
“We even joked about farming, so it was a very good engagement."
Overall, a common consensus among several of the teams reflected a sense of promise for the village. However, they also said they realized there was a lot of work ahead of them.
“It needs some assistance,” said Bridges, adding that the team’s main goal is to assist the area by helping identify those needs the government of Iraq and coalition forces can focus their efforts.
“The visit today was incredibly positive; we just basically got out in the community and talked to people,” he said. “Some of us spent some money in the shops to buy some candy and pencils and handed them out to the kids.
"There were only a few guys gritting their teeth … but it was a very positive perception. The kids and adults wanted to talk to us and shake hands."
Despite the multitude of various tasks taking place within a single patrol, the desired end result of the mission for each team was linked together by a common goal.
“[This mission] was all part of a greater scheme, looking at the governance and basic infrastructure of Abayachi, but they were all looking at different things, “ said 1st Lt. Matthew B. Schardt, a native of Littleton, Colo., who serves as a platoon leader for 1st Platoon, Co. B, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Regt.
"Some were looking at law enforcement, some were looking at it a culture perspective, and others were looking at it from a basic government perspective. The mission today went extremely well. We accomplished the mission. We saturated Abayachi some follow-up projects to work on.(Story by Sgt. Jerome Bishop, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division–Baghdad.) More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSIONTags: DOD, Military, War, United States, U.S., Army, Middle East, Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Multinational Force, coalition, al Qaeda, al Qaida, GWOT, terrorism, photography, photo, photos, pictures, images, photojournalism, Combat Camera, Stryker Brigade, Dispatches from the FrontGlobal Tags: Washington DC, News and Politics, News, Politics, Current Events, Current Affairs, Life, Culture, Buzz, TensionBlogstore: THE TENSION EXCHANGEShop Today's Deals at Amazon.com and Save! Buy.com's Deal of the Day! A Different Product Every Day.Broadband Essentials from RealNetworks: Maximize Your PC.
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