Derry, N.H. native Spc. Jeremy White (right), a medic with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, looks in his bag for something to treat an Iraqi man whose hand has a cyst March 17 near the village of Kem, Iraq during a foot patrol. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
1st Cavalry News
Iraqi soldiers, U.S. troops build relations with villagers and each other during foot patrol
By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp
1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
KEM, Iraq – Troops from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) and Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment are continuing to do their part in building relationships with each other as well as with villagers living here.
As part of a combined effort, they did just that as they worked together on a foot patrol, passing out fliers and going door to door meeting the villagers in the area March 17. The fliers explained how the people could protect themselves against the threats of improvised explosive device attacks, what to do if they should stumble across an IED, how to recognize threats so they do not become victims of insurgent motivated violence and who to call for help.
“I prefer to be doing missions like this one where we actually can see first hand the long term benefits,” said Pfc. Jeremy Stone, an infantryman with Co. A, 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. and a native of Somis, Calif. “A lot of times when we go on routine patrols, it’s hard to see exactly how we’re making a difference, but meeting the people here and working with the IAs and seeing them do their parts to help end the violence here and protect the people is a great feeling.”
Carrollton, Ohio native Sgt. Jerrod Border, a team leader with Co.A whose Soldiers often do foot patrols in the area, said his troops are slowly but surely building relations with the IAs and the people in their area of operations and positive things are beginning to happen through their partnership with the IAs.
In addition, through building trust with the people, he said, they are collecting information that helps lead them to insurgents.
“Sometimes there are people who, when you talk to them, they’re a little afraid to talk to us because they may feel the insurgents are watching and may harm them,” said Sgt. Jerrod Border, a team leader for Co. A. “But for the most part, the people want us here and everyday things are getting better. They’re starting to feel more secure with the IAs and with us. We’re trying to get out here more often, so the people can feel safe in their neighborhoods.”
During the patrol, each Co. A Soldier teamed up with an Iraqi Army “battle buddy.” Over the course of talking to villagers and handing out the fliers, the Co. A Soldiers observed as the Iraqi Army soldiers led the efforts of getting to know the people.
Along with that, as the patrol moved on foot, the Soldiers said they were impressed with how observant the IA soldiers were when they pulled security and their vigilance in keeping their eyes open for anything suspicious.
“This is a really sharp group, they really know their stuff and they’re really squared away,” said Border, whose battle buddy was an IA squad leader.
When time and the situation allowed, there was also some good natured kidding amongst the IA troops and Co. A Soldiers, which reflected that they have become brothers in arms, said Border.
As Baghdad Security Plan operations continue flushing insurgents from the city, IA troops and Soldiers like those in Co. A will keep working to keep the enemy from finding safe havens in the outer-lying communities like Kem, said Capt. Scott Hequembourg, commander, Co. A, 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.
“The way we see it is, as they clear Baghdad of bad guys, they’re going to try to go somewhere, so we have to be prepared to clear the area, and help the people here,” said Hequembourg. “Some of our biggest goals are to keep routes clear for supplies and helping the Iraqi security forces train up to where they can protect the people and eventually U.S. forces can leave.”
“The IAs are getting better at what they do every day,” he added “The people in the villages are getting friendlier and most of them are good and just want to have a good life. I believe our Soldiers see that all of the hard work is leading to something positive and that it’s not a waste of time—they are going to have a sense of accomplishment of helping not only Iraq, but their own country as well.”
An Iraqi Army soldier (left) from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) and Pfc. Jeremy Stone, an infantryman with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment and a native of Somis, Calif., pull security near the village of Kem, Iraq March 17. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
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. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
I really love this last photo! The Iraqi people, contrary to what I have been reading, are human. They want a better way of life and are fighting hard to make it a reality!