Surging: Airborne in Baghdad
KADAMIYAH, Baghdad â€“ The sudden clap of a firearmâ€™s discharge prompts the split second reaction of the paratroopers patrolling the volatile streets of Iraqâ€™s capital on foot. The paratroopers are poised for contact with the unseen threat. From behind urban cover â€“ a car, a corner or even a light post – they meticulously scan their interlocking sectors of fire to ensure 360-degree security for the platoon conducting a presence patrol.
Fortunately for the enemy, the noise, which prompted instantaneous action from the platoon of battle-tested paratroopers, was a false alarm. The sound of road construction was the likely culprit.
Thanks to a revamped strategy to quell sectarian violence throughout Baghdad, the paratroopers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, attached to 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., are spending more and more time on the streets of the Hurriyah neighborhood, within the Baghdadâ€™s Kadamiyah district.
The paratroopers, who stood up the Hurriyah Joint Security Station (JSS) in just three days with the help of some combat engineers, have moved into the neighborhood and are making their presence felt, said Maj. Michael Shaw, the company commander.
With the Iraqi police already living in the JSS, Iraqi national police residing nearby and an Iraqi Army battalion of Kurdish troops en route, the JSS is becoming somewhat of a joint operations headquarters, said the native of Wichita, Kan.
“Weâ€™re here to help establish a JSS in order to give the IA, IPs, NPs and the coalition forces a common operating picture of the battlefield and the ability to be more proactive with the security of Iraq,” Shaw said. “Weâ€™re here to help the Iraqi security forces establish security and maintain the security (to) eventually allow (them) to take complete control of all the security within Baghdad.”
In order to provide Baghdad residents security, the paratroopers are working with the Iraqi security forces to quell sectarian violence, said 1st Lt. David Eckenrode, company fire support officer.
“Our unitâ€™s role is to target the extremists on both ends. Weâ€™re not taking any sides here,” said the native of Clark, N.J. “There are things wrong right now. You got stuff going on, on both sides. The majority of the people want security and to end whatâ€™s going on, Weâ€™re just here to help them.”
Since the security of Baghdad is the focus of the mission, the paratroopers of the Hurriyah JSS are hopeful working in the community will pay dividends in intelligence. The paratroopers recently moved into the neighborhood and the residents of Hurriyah have not been forthcoming, thus far, with useful information, Shaw said.
“The local population is under the influence of a local militia and is unwilling to speak with, or cooperate with coalition forces,” he said.
However that does not mean the paratroopers are not giving the residents every opportunity to come forward.
To increase interaction with the local populace and let them know they are there to stay, the paratroopers conduct frequent joint, presence patrols of the Hurriyah neighborhood with their Iraqi partners, Eckenrode said.
“When we feel theyâ€™re ready, then we can turn it over to them. But right now, weâ€™re here to help them out and shape their environment,” Eckenrode said. “Eventually down the road, we want to train them and show them the right way and turn it over to them.”
The paratroopers are also engaging leaders of the community in an effort to foster a positive relationship between the Iraqi security forces and the residents of Hurriyah, Eckenrode said.
Command leaders of Co. A met with the Hurriyahâ€™s Neighborhood Advisory Council for the first time. The NAC includes many of the communityâ€™s civic, military and religious leaders, who the paratroopers would like to work with on more proactive security measures in the neighborhood, Shaw said.
By engaging the communityâ€™s leaders and making their presence felt, the paratroopers are confident they will obtain useful intelligence, which can then be used for operations to drive out insurgent and terrorist organizations, Shaw said.
“Weâ€™re living with Iraqi security forces. Weâ€™re doing joint patrols with them and weâ€™re basically providing the example, the know-how and also, in some areas, the resources for the Iraqis to provide their own security, so we can come home,” Shaw said.
Perhaps the next time there is a false alarm, the ISF will be able to react to the situation and provide security to Hurriyah. Until then the paratroopers of Co. A are ready to show them how itâ€™s done.
The releases I’m forwarding to you are straight out of Baghdad. I
realize this may be too “soft” for your use, but I thought I’d give you
a glimpse at what your Paratroopers are actually doing, less than a
month after the President authorized their movement from here.
The 82nd has a track record for this sort of strategy. We maintained
security in Ramadi and Fallujah in this fashion from Sept. 03 to Apr.
04. The key is to let the people see and know a force they can trust.
Another model for this is Tal Afar where Paratroopers from 2nd Bn.,
325th AIR rescued the town from the grips of radicals for a second time.
The mayor of Tal Afar maintains close contact to this day with LTC Chris
Gibson, the 2-325 AIR Bn. Commander, who led his battalion into the
city. All indications are the methods work. Now, we’re applying our
lessons learned to the focal point of Iraq.
Indications from forward are that our guys are welcomed and embraced by
the populace, and our Iraqi brothers are learning and emulating the
Keep a close eye on this “new way forward”. My suspicion is you’ll
start to see the populace of Baghdad embrace this effort by early summer
in large numbers. These changes don’t occur overnight, but a secure
populace will begin to turn in those who seek to disrupt security.
We’ve seen it too many times for this to be an anomaly.
MNF Iraq via e-mail
The 82nd Airborne Divisionâ€™s 2nd Brigade Combat Team established a combat outpost in the heart of Baghdad this week in an effort to reduce sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital and assist the Iraqi security forces to take control of the city.
Paratroopers from the 2nd BCTâ€™s 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment will be living, working, and conducting operations out of the newly-established Combat Outpost (COP) Callahan, located in Baghdadâ€™s Adhamiyah district.
“Living in this neighborhood means we can maintain a constant presence. Weâ€™re not going home at night. Weâ€™re here 24/7,” said 1st Lt. David Bopp, of Boulder, Colo., a platoon leader with Company C, 2nd Bn., 325th AIR.
Until recently, COP Callahan was nothing more than the skeletal remains of what had once been a busy shopping mall. But in the early morning hours of Feb. 7, following dozens of precision-targeted raids in the area by the 2nd Infantry Divisionâ€™s 3rd Stryker BCT, the 2nd Bn. “White Falcons” moved in and occupied the building.
Since then, COP Callahan has been a whirlwind of activity. At any given hour, paratroopers are busy stringing concertina wire, sawing and hammering lumber, and stacking sandbags to ensure maximum force protection. Outside, cranes and forklifts move heavy concrete barriers into place along the perimeter, mindful of the occasional sniper fire. As all this is going on, patrols constantly move in and out to meet the local population.
For the people of Adhamiyah, not accustomed to seeing a coalition presence in their neighborhoods, the sight of paratroopers walking the streets and getting to know the locals is a novelty.
“Being dismounted is the key to winning this fight, in my opinion,” said Bopp. “You canâ€™t interact with someone behind a window of glass.”
Because of the face-to-face contact they invite, foot patrols are the White Falconsâ€™ most effective intelligence-gathering tool. Information also gives the paratroopers an understanding of the issues and problems in the community. By acting on both kinds of information and producing tangible results, the White Falcons hope to win the locals over to their side.
The success of the plan will depend largely on the abilities of noncommissioned officers like Sgt. Patrick Ireland, a squad leader with Co. B, 2nd Bn., 325th AIR. When he leaves the COP, Ireland has to be a Soldier, a policeman, a diplomat and a traveling salesman – sometimes all at once.
On one recent patrol, Ireland set out to introduce himself to his new neighbors. He spent the next five hours going door-to-door, collecting business cards, sipping tea, asking polite questions and painstakingly trying to piece scraps of information together to form a complete picture of the area.
“Right now, itâ€™s just matching a name with a face, but I guarantee weâ€™re going to know these people really, really well by the end of this deployment,” Ireland said.
Lubbock, Texas, native Pfc. Jason Bates, 21, a saw gunner with 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, which is attached to 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., provides security while patrolling the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdadâ€™s Kadamiyah district Feb. 8. Pruittâ€™s unit patrols from a Joint Security Station in the neighborhood, which encourages transition by allowing Iraqi security forces to train and operate with the paratroopers on a one-on-one basis. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Pfc. Giovanny Rincon, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a paratrooper with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, makes friends with an Iraqi girl during a patrol in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district Feb. 8(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)
Muskogee, Okla., native Sgt. John Pruitt, 29, a squad leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, attached to 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., passes an Iraqi man on the streets of the Hurriyah neighborhood in Baghdadâ€™s Kadamiyah district Feb. 8. Pruitt and his unit operate from a Joint Security Station, where they live side-by-side with Iraqi security forces and maintain a daily security presence in the neighborhood. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Spc. Scott Johnson and Pfc. Charles Darensbourg from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, look for targets on a rooftop during a patrol in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district Feb. 7 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)
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