Some US Troops See Little Change in Post Withdrawal Iraq Ops
Dispatches from the Front:
ADWANIYAH, Iraq – Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, have found that little has changed in their operating area south of Baghdad since the June 30 Security Agreement went into effect.
The battalion operates in a large swath of countryside bordering the Tigris River with soldiers from the 55th Iraqi Army Division.
"Since our tour started [in April 2009], we began conducting operations within the [Security Agreement] guidelines." said Capt. Brian Grey, the battalion's Battery B commander. "That way, the coming of June 30 would be as smooth as possible."
Capt. Joe Boles, Battery A commander, said he has noticed only small changes in their patrol schedule since then.
"The difference now is that we have to coordinate several days in advance," he said.
Soldiers are going on fewer patrols, but they are still going out into the community regularly. Their main role is to support the Iraqi army when needed.
"Combined planning and missions continue," said Grey, "but with more direction to ensure we are synchronized with their operations."
Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Johnson believes the Iraqis are getting used to their new role and are taking the lead.
"They are leaps and bounds above where they were in 2004," said Johnson.
"We really want to work ourselves out of a job," said Boles. "I think the local population has confidence in the IA for security. They see them out there on check points and patrolling."
Many soldiers say they have noticed a boost of morale in the IA soldiers since implementation of the Security Agreement.
"On June 30, the Iraqi soldiers had a sense of pride that comes with this milestone," said Grey.
(Report by Sgt. Mary Phillips, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team.)
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