Sunday, June 24, 2007

Black Hawk Troops Use More Than Body Armor to Keep Each Other Safe

20 Jun 07
By Spc. Alexis Harrison
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs.

Black Hawk Troops Use More Than Body Armor to Keep Each Other Safe.
20 Jun 07
By Spc. Alexis Harrison
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs.

BAGHDAD – For many of the Soldiers in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the current 15-month tour in Iraq isn't their first. For the rest of the Soldiers in the “Black Jack” Brigade, having well-seasoned leaders can make all the difference.

While out on the streets every day, Soldiers from Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, rely on much more than just the individual body armor systems they wear. They depend on each other to make it through daily situations and even the entire deployment.

Staff Sgt. Angus Robinson from Copperas Cove, Texas, is on his third tour in Iraq. In 2004, he was with the 4th Infantry Division during the initial invasion. Six months later he was reassigned to the 1st Infantry Division to complete his second combat tour.

Although he was a truck gunner for the majority of his first two tours, he was still a non-commissioned officer who had to look out for what mattered most to him in a time of war: his Soldiers.

"Before, we had to fight through many places, not necessarily on a daily basis, but it was a regular thing," he said. "It was an eye-opening experience. It showed me the levels of responsibility you take on for your Soldiers are much different in combat than in a garrison environment."

For Robinson, the trips to Baqubah and Adiliyah were his first experience in combat. He would soon after find himself getting promoted to staff sergeant and getting assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division where he knew he'd once again have to lead Soldiers in a combat environment.

Through several trips to a combat zone, Robinson developed his own techniques of leadership. He borrowed a little from his past NCOs, a little from his experiences and a little from himself to become the leader he is today.

Sgt. Patrick Trujillo also has his share of combat experience. He served in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Polk, La., during its trip to Iraq a few years ago. The Copperas Cove native is now an NCO with 2nd Platoon, Troop B "Night Stalkers."

His leadership techniques are similar to those of Robinson’s in the sense that he's taken a lot from his past leaders and he tries to give his Soldiers as much respect as he can.

He believes the more you show your Soldiers what it takes to be respected the more they'll respect him. He doesn't do it through punishments or lucrative awards.

"Lead by example," he said. "I always learned more from leaders who didn't mind getting their hands dirty."

More recently, Robinson was again reassigned. This time he didn't have to go as far as last time. He moved from one platoon to another within the "Black Hawk" Troop.

Not skipping a beat, Robinson was out on the streets with his team. The area where they patrol in Karkh used to be one of the worst in Baghdad. Robinson credits the hard work by leaders and his fellow Bradley tank crews for cleaning up the neighborhood.

Both Robinson and Trujillo remarked on how quickly the businesses, traffic and people came back to the area after a few months of being not much more than a ghost town where bodies were being found almost daily.

One more thing the two NCOs agreed upon was the satisfaction of seeing their Soldiers thrive and find success in combat.

"When I see my 'Joes' grow into larger roles, it gives me a satisfied feeling," Robinson said.

With a rather large grin on his face, Trujillo spouts: "It's a warm, fuzzy feeling."

Robinson said with leadership comes a lot more than giving orders. Besides patrolling a small area north of the International Zone, many responsibilities lie right on the base where they sleep.

Keeping up with vehicle and weapon maintenance, personal and personnel issues and training are just some of the things Robinson and Trujillo have to keep their Soldiers up to date on.

Robinson said as trivial as it might seem to the untrained eye, every step of the process every day helps mold young Soldiers into leaders and leaders into better leaders.

"In order to see [Soldiers] grow as individuals and leaders, you have to give them a sense of ownership. You have to allow them to take responsibility to the next level."

Robinson remarked that several of his Soldiers are itching for action. He can understand why, but he knows that patrolling a safe neighborhood is much easier than patrolling a volatile one.

One such Soldier is Spc. Ashley Hall. The Ardmore, Ala., native says that many of the challenges they face boil down to something much more simple than expected.

He said that being out in sector isn't necessarily the toughest part of the job. The true challenge lies in what's expected of him on a daily basis. Trujillo feels the same way.

"It's a big challenge having guys' lives in your hands," he said. "It's kind of scary but kind of satisfying in the same sense."

Photo - Staff Sgt. Michael Jenkins of 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, greets an Iraqi soldier with whom he used to man a checkpoint with during a dismount to check on security measures June 7. He and his section from the 2nd Platoon "Night Stalkers" Troop B, now patrol Baghdad's Karkh District. Photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison.

Source: MNF-I.

This is a great article which tells of young man who learns about leadership by the example he sees all around him. This is one thing we could certainly use a lot more of!

Originally posted @ DoD Daily News-2.

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