Black Hawk Troops find persistence to victory on Baghdad’s Haifa St.
By Spc. Alexis Harrison (Alexis is one of my favorite journalist in the Army!)
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – Troops from 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division patrol the Haifa Street area daily, shadowed by scores of children who greet them at every stop they make to ask for chocolate or a soccer ball.
Most of the Soldiers don’t mind handing out a couple sweets for the children to enjoy while they trek through the war-torn neighborhood the children call home.
The “Black Hawk” Troop, commanded by Capt. Chris Dawson who hails from Lima, Ohio, provides an essential service to residents who’ve been through so many violent times: peace of mind.
1st Lt. Brian Long, a fire support officer and “Blue” Platoon’s leader from Jacksonville, Fla., said there’s nothing more important than getting to know the people in the area and addressing their concerns.
He said that even months after the heaviest of fighting happened, people are still coming to his troops with information and questions on what’s happened in recent months.
The troop took over the area after a heavy bout of insurgent activity forced many to flee their homes or hide for their own safety. Several days of fighting occurred before the Cavalry troops finally slaked the violence, allowing many people to come back and start to live their lives.
Attacks on coalition forces have since dropped by more than 50 percent. Dozens of bodies were found along sectarian fault lines in the area, but since the new security plan has been established, the Black Hawk troops have not found a single body lying in the street or anywhere in their sector.
Bringing peace to neighborhoods like this one is one of the major improvements the Soldiers from the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade have been able to accomplish since they arrived last year.
However, as one Soldier recounts, it wasn’t as peaceful the last time he was here.
Staff Sgt. Jebediah Arthur was with 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., a few years ago when the First Team was in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He said heavy fighting was a regular occurrence for him and his troops.
The Moran, Texas native said that Iraqis weren’t always as friendly as they are now. They used to shy away from any contact with Soldiers and wouldn’t provide more than a cold stare or an unfriendly gesture.
Now, everywhere the Soldiers go, they are greeted like visitors to an almost second home. The people, in the community Arthur and his comrades visit speak freely to them and often provide an inside look into what’s really happening in their community.
“It’s finally gotten to where they can come and talk to us and work with everyone,” Arthur said. “Acting professionally helps, but they actually see the results of the information they give us. I think that’s been the key to our success over here this time.”
The troops have been busy with other duties than just patrolling the busy streets. Recently, a medical operation headed by the troop and other Soldiers from the brigade took place to bring some much-needed care to the residents.
The leaders of the troop realize how important it is to continue their work and not to give up on the people of the area.
Long said that the coalition forces have gained a lot of momentum against violence in the area.
“Being out there every day is a good way to dispel the rumors that we’re not doing anything but inhibiting the growth of these neighborhoods,” Long said. “We are seeing improvements and we are appreciated by the people we interact with.”
“In 10 years,” Arthur said, “we’ll probably be vacationing here.”
Capt. Chris Dawson, from Lima, Ohio and commander of Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, talks to some Iraqi soldiers while on the beat in Baghdad April 5. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
1st Lt. Brian Long, fire support officer and “Blue” Platoon leader from Jacksonville, Fla., watches some Iraqi children play soccer in the Karkh neighborhood of Baghdad April 5. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Capt. Chris Dawson, a native of Lima, Ohio and commander of Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, leads a playful chant with some Iraqi children in Baghdad’s Karkh neighborhood April 5. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Staff Sgt. Jebediah Arthur, a Moran, Texas, native and fire support team chief with Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, patrols the streets of Baghdad’s Karkh neighborhood, shadowed by Iraqi children requesting chocolate and soccer balls April 5. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
In lieu of the recent message by the Sec of Def. regarding the extensions in the Middle East, I am dedicating this fast to all those involved; the Troops, their families and those who support them.
Today I am fasting and praying with resolve, that we all maintain a positive attitude, knowing the extra time will be tasking.
I pray that we back home continue to give our Men and Women the much needed support they deserve. And I pray that those in the battle remain strong and vigilant in their mission.
No word yet if the 1st Cav will be effected and rather than mope and whine, I am hoping that we all keep the faith. If it happens, I feel Christmas in March will be an experience worth rejoicing!
As the Rear-Det Cdr. for the 2BCT, 1CD stated, “We are truly in this together.”