Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category
The Iraqi navy accepted Swift-class Patrol boats 304 and 306 from the U.S. Navy during a handover ceremony Aug. 13 at Umm Qasr, Iraq.
Saturday’s ceremony was the culmination of months of effort for both the U.S. and Iraqi Navies.
“I’m extremely happy for the Iraqi navy,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Kelvin Dixon, director of Iraq Training and Advising Mission-Navy and Marines from Rockaway, N.J. “The delivery of the U.S. built Swift Patrol Boats 304 and 306 increases the Iraqi navy’s capability to effectively patrol and defend their territorial waters and critical oil infrastructure.”
“The Iraqis have really done an outstanding job with the limited assets they had,” said Cmdr. Quintin “QB” Bell, commanding officer of the ITAM-N/M at Umm Qasr from Augusta, Ga. “The addition of these two very-capable patrol boats will greatly enhance their ability to carry out their assigned missions.”
Iraqi navy commander, Rear Adm. Ali, said that the delivery was an important day for the Iraqi navy, and he thanked everyone for making the day happen, according to Bell.
Construction began on 304 and 306 in mid-2010 in Morgan City, La. Upon completion, the 35-meter patrol boats began their journey to Iraq in June with a month-long voyage from Houston to Bahrain on the roll-on/roll-off ship MV Cape Trinity. The U.S. Navy offloaded the vessels in Bahrain and sailed them to Umm Qasr under the U.S. flag.
Swift Patrol Boats 304 and 306 arrived in Umm Qasr Aug. 7 and underwent final checks and sea trials facilitated by Naval Sea Systems Command and ITAM-N/M engineers. U.S. engineers and advisors validated the boats were seaworthy and the crews were qualified prior to the handover.
After U.S. and Iraqi navy leadership signed required documents, U.S. and Iraqi sailors lowered the U.S. flag and raised the Iraqi flag on the vessels to complete the handover.
The patrol boats provide capability for a variety of missions including maritime surveillance and reconnaissance as well as vessel boarding and search and seizure. The new vessels raise the Iraqi navy’s patrol boat force to five of 12 ordered. The remaining Swift boats are expected to arrive in Iraq before 2013.
The Iraqi navy is responsible for protecting off-shore oil infrastructure, territorial waters, Umm Qasr, and checkpoints in the surrounding area. Currently, the Iraqi fleet boasts 65 vessels, and more than 3,700 sailors and Marines, conducting more than 50 weekly patrols.
Story by Maj. Brandon Lingle
On a warm morning over calm waters, the horizon is lined with small fishing boats. A Kuwaiti coast guard cutter discovers an Iraqi fisherman operating illegally in Kuwait’s territorial waters and the crew detains him. The Iraqi navy arrives to take custody of the apprehended fisherman and return him to friendlier seas.
That was the scenario played out by a joint training exercise of the Iraqi navy and Kuwaiti coast guard in the Persian Gulf, July 25.
This and other exercises conducted since 2008 are the legacy of the Khawr Abd Allah Protocol, an agreement signed between Kuwait and Iraq to ensure the security of territorial waters in the Gulf.
U.S. Navy sailors with Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission-Navy in Umm Qasr have been hard at work training their Iraqi navy counterparts to be seaworthy.
Until recently, the Iraqi training had been planned and coordinated by ITAM-N. This exercise was the first entirely orchestrated by Iraqi and Kuwaiti forces, while the U.S. Navy were merely observers, said Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Hoff, U.S. liaison to the Kuwaiti coast guard, who watched with ITAM-N operations officers from aboard the deck of an Iraqi patrol boat.
“We’re here for moral support or in case they have any questions,” said Hoff.
Hoff said exercises like this are the fruit of an effort by ITAM-N to prepare Iraqi sailors and promote cooperation across the sea and land with Kuwait. The exercise outlines a common problem with illegal fishing that faces Iraq and Kuwait, he added.
The exercise started with an officer exchange and planning meeting aboard the Iraqi patrol boat, called a swift boat. Defenders, small watercraft that accompany patrols, acted the part of the illegally fishing vessels to be apprehended by the Kuwaiti coast guard.
After the first arrest and subsequent surrender of the “fisherman” to the Iraqi navy, the two forces reversed roles. The Defenders surrounded a Kuwaiti vessel acting out the illicit fishing operation and delivered the culprits to the awaiting custody of the Kuwaiti coast guard.
Each year, the Iraqi and Kuwaiti forces plan to do more cooperative practice runs, including border meetings of officials from both nations, said Hoff.
“It’s the culmination of years of effort to encourage the Iraqi navy and Kuwaiti coast guard to improve their operability,” said Hoff. “It’s a victory.”
Story by Pvt. Andrew Slovensky
Sgt. James Quatro enlisted in the 105th Military Police Company, New York Army National Guard, to be a part of something greater than himself.
Answering the call of duty, the military policeman recently deployed to Iraq, attached to Task Force Shield, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, in support of Operation New Dawn.
His mission involves advising and training Iraqi Security Forces in U.S. Division – North, helping to make the ISF a sustainable force for their country.
“Since I was little, I always wanted to be a soldier,” said Quatro, a native of Rochester, N.Y. “My grandfather served in Korea, and I wanted to honor him.”
Quatro trains his Iraqi counterparts on tactics to increase their overall proficiency as policemen, including counter-improvised explosive device procedures and rifle fundamentals.
“Weapons have always been my strong point, and I enjoy teaching,” said Quatro, who said he is knowledgeable on a wide variety of weapon systems.
Since arriving in Iraq, Quatro conducted two iterations of AK-47 training to help Iraqi emergency response battalions become proficient on their rifles.
“We build our relationship with ISF through this training,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Bode, a platoon leader assigned to 105th MP Company.
Serving as a team leader, Quatro is the primary instructor in his squad and is an asset to the squad and company, Bode added.
“Sgt. Quatro is an outstanding soldier and a well-disciplined [non-commissioned officer],” said Bode, a native of Buffalo, N.Y. “It’s great to be able to watch how well [Iraqi policemen] respond to his training, and you can see how well they implement what he trains when they conduct their range.”
Pamela L. Davis, an environmental manager with the environmental section, United States Forces-Iraq engineers, and Capt. William N. Muthiora, deputy mayor, East Camp Liberty, 116th Garrison Command, United States Division-Center, point out areas of environmental concern and discuss the results from the day’s surveys at Camp Liberty, May 16. Environmental managers work closely with the different base mayors’ offices in order to track the progress of the different sites located in their areas of responsibility. Photo by Sgt. TJ Moller
The task of surveying and clearing sites which were used by more than 160,000 U.S. service members during the height of the Iraq conflict, falls on the shoulders of 12 United States Forces-Iraq environmental managers.
Environmental managers conduct surveys to identify environmental areas of concern and ensure the environment is properly maintained as U.S. forces turn more bases over to the government of Iraq, the U.S. Department of State and Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq.
Surveying sites and ensuring that the U.S. military’s presence has minimal impact on the environment is one of the main goals of the mission, said Pamela L. Davis, an environmental manager with the environmental section, USF-I engineers.
“These professionals bridge the gap between the USF-I environmental section and the divisions and bases,” said Lt. Col. Bryce J. Taggart, deputy chief for basing, facilities and environment, USF-I engineers. “Without their expertise and presence at the divisions or bases we could not do the environmental assessments that lead to the clean closure of bases.”
As troop presence decreases, environmental base closure surveys are being conducted to ensure the designated environmental compliance officer of each site – military and civilian – is complying with the environmental policies established by USF-I and are taking steps to prepare for the turnover.
There are many areas addressed during the surveys, said James A. Terrell, an environmental manager assigned to support United States Division-Center. Areas such as fuel points and hazardous waste accumulation points are looked at closely due to the possibility of spills.
Along with conducting surveys, environmental managers also offer guidance to the environmental compliance officers on regulated waste turn-in procedures. They work closely with the base mayors offices in order to track cleanup progress at bases located in their area of responsibility.
Each site must undergo a minimum of three surveys before it can be cleared for release, said Davis. Initial, preliminary and final surveys are required and additional preliminary surveys are done if needed.
If deficiencies are found during a site survey, the environmental compliance officer and environmental manager must come up with a corrective action plan, said Davis. This plan will include a brief description of the work that needs to be done, an estimated schedule for the start and completion, the resources required and the cost associated with the project.
Documenting the condition of the environment and ensuring that environmental policies are being followed during military operations is a large task.
“It’s the responsible thing to do,” said Taggart. “Returning the bases and property used by U.S. forces to the government of Iraq in a clean and usable condition is our goal.”
“We are trying to hand over clean, safe facilities that the Iraqis can use,” said Terrell. “The bases are in good shape and there should not be any problems closing them.”
Story by Sgt. TJ Moller