1st Cavalry News
3-5-6 MiTT Continues to Make Progress Despite Challenges
By Spc. Alexis Harrison
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – A few months ago, Haifa Street was considered one of the most notorious places in Baghdad. The 4th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment Military Transition Team had been training for the moment to reclaim that area and fight alongside their Iraqi brothers from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division.
As abruptly as the fighting ended, the team and its counterparts were reassigned to a different area in Hateen where they fought an equally aggressive enemy. After spending more than two months gaining trust and rebuilding the structure of the neighborhood, the Soldiers, both Iraqi and American, were called upon to move to another area.
Now, the team and the Iraqi Army battalion patrol a predominately Shi’a sector just west of the International Zone. And after more than 90 days of tough lessons learned on Haifa, the team takes its training of their counterparts more seriously than ever.
Staff Sgt. Colin Davis said that although the move presents challenges, it’s also proved to be good in many ways.
He said that staying in an area for too long can lead to complacency. He stressed the importance of learning how to adapt and overcome every challenge that’s been placed on the Soldiers he fights with.
As much as they’d faced in the past, the team still knew how important it was to never lower its guard, because a Soldier can never predict what is going to happen on the ground.
For example, what started as a routine patrol through one of the neighborhoods in Docklia turned into a valuable lesson on how to react to contact.
A sniper fired upon the team’s vehicles while they were entering the muhalla. Within seconds, the Soldiers reacted attempting to capture the sniper. The sniper had fled before the soldiers could get to him, but Maj. Chris Norrie said it’s still a valuable lesson to know how to react when situations like this arise.
The original plan for the day didn’t call for a lesson like the one that was taught. The team’s plan was to check out the living conditions, fighting positions and overall attitude of the soldiers who stay out in the area.
Along with the security-related concerns, Norrie and his men wanted to spread a little cheer to a few children while they were in the area. Inside their trucks, they had several new backpacks that they wanted to give away, but all that changed when the team had to engage an insurgent.
Norrie said that when coming into a new area like Docklia, it’s paramount to gain the people’s trust and begin to make improvements to not only security but to essential services like water, sewage and school rebuilding.
Surprisingly enough, this brief brush with an anti-Iraqi insurgent would prove to be a useful to Norrie, the team and the Iraqi soldiers with them.
“The training doesn’t stop, even when you go out in sector,” said Staff Sgt. Buaka Tamu, Sierra Leon, West Africa, native and security chief with the team.
While many of the team’s members acknowledge the suspicions that surround the Iraqi security, they also make it very clear how important trust is to each and every one of them.
“We’re a family,” Tamu said. “It’s not the MiTT and the Iraqi Army; it’s just 3-5-6. We’re all together in this. We’re doing what has to be done now so that our kids and grandkids don’t have to be doing it all over again down the road.”
“We trust these guys enough to fight alongside them,” said Pfc. Josh Bartoli, a driver and Weirton, W.V., native with the team. “That should say enough.”
Norrie and the team hope that they don’t have to occupy a different area again. They had built up a reputation with the people of Haifa and in Hateen, and they hope to do the same for the people in the new area.
Two days after encountering the sniper, the team and its counterparts were back on the street accomplishing the mission the started out to fulfill.
They finally got to hand out all the backpacks and care packages to the kids on the streets.
“It’s all about strengthening relationships with the people,” Norrie said. “We all believe the future of this country belongs in their hands. They are the force to put an end to this violence. If not them, then who else?”
Maj. Chris Norrie, commander 4th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment Military Transition Team and Barton, Vt., native, gives some directional instructions to some Iraqi soldiers before they raid a house where a sniper had shot at the team from during a routine patrol through the neighborhood March 19. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Staff Sgt. Colin Davis, a Lawton, Okla., native, with 4th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment Military Transition Team, listens to his interpreter describe some propaganda found on a street corner in the neighborhood he and the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division were patrolling March 19. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Maj. Chris Norrie, commander of 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division Military Transition Team and Barton, Vt., native, shows the Iraqi soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division where a sniper had been shooting from during what started as a routine patrol through the area March 19. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div.Public Affairs)
Staff Sgt. Buaka Tamu, a Sierra Leone, West Africa, native and 4th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment Military Transition Team member, observes some Iraqi soldiers as they move into a house where a sniper had been shooting from March 19. Tamu and the transition team were checking out the fighting positions and living conditions of the Iraqi soldiers in one of the team’s new areas of operations when they came under contact. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Another great article by Spc. Alexis Harrison! Sending HIM a virtual hug and salute for a job well done!