5-7th Cav. Regt. Watches Community Transform
By Sgt. Luis Delgadillo
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
After just six days of operations out of Patrol Base Meade, Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division began to see results of their cooperation with community leaders in Sayafiyah, south of Baghdad, Jan. 27.
During the operations, Troops B and C, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div., established security in villages near the patrol base leaving one troop, Troop A, to handle security further south.
Troop A, accompanied by Lt. Col. Clifford Wheeler, 5-7 Cav. Regt. commander, was to establish a foothold in Sayafiyah, on the banks of the Tigris River approximately 15 kilometers southeast of Patrol Base Meade. Their arrival uncovered more than expected.
As the route clearance team marked improvised explosive devices, Troop A cleared buildings and together made their way to the town, a suspected terrorist safe haven.
Opening the road to Sayafiyah was no small feat. Residents of Sayafiyah, who had volunteered to assist coalition forces locating IEDs were out in front of route clearance vehicles, looking for tell-tale signs of the deadly traps.
The local volunteers came forward to assist earlier in the month when Sayafiyah community leaders met with the commander of 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., Col. Terry Ferrell. In that meeting, Ferrell assured Sayafiyah leaders his Soldiers would be conducting operations to establish a long term presence in the region.
With the assurance, the regional leaders agreed to assist clearing vital roads, which would eventually be used to deliver supplies and equipment to troops staying in the city.
1st Lt. Robert Seiter, platoon leader with Troop A., said that he and his fellow Soldiers recently came from an area with a completely different security situation.
Seiter, a native of Fort Mitchell, Ky., said in the unitâ€™s previous location, west of Fallujah, the Soldiers established a rapport with neighboring villagers which enabled troops to employ a less aggressive security plan.
Spc. John D. Gilga, a cavalry scout with Troop A and native of DuBois, Pa., said though he was focused on the mission venturing south, he was still nervous heading into unfamiliar territory.
The foot patrol was slow and deliberate. Along the way the Troop A Soldiers encountered two corroding IEDs, which did not have initiating devices attached.
While the danger of pressure plate IEDs remains, residents said that most, if not all, insurgents in the area had fled.
It was close to noon when Troop A and its commander reached their destination, a lively rustic farming community.
To the Soldiersâ€™ surprise, community residents and local leaders were on hand to greet them.
Wheeler and the leaders spoke at length on issues facing the region and the future of coalition forces in the area.
Wheeler was able to secure a building for Troop Aâ€™s observation post and the residents were assured that a Concerned Local Citizens group would be established.
As night fell, a crowd of local residents gathered to watch their new neighbors dismantle the front gate of their new post.
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