Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cougar Squadron Kicks Off Raider Typhoon

Friday, 25 April 2008
By Staff Sgt. Brent Williams
1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON — Knocking on doors; greeting the family; talking about politics, the neighbors or just the weather over a hot cup of overly sweet chai – a pleasant side of operations for Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers who have operated in the southeastern Rashid District for the past eight months.

For Soldiers of “Fox,” Company F, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B, interpersonal relations, consensus information and the pictures they create are the biggest contributors to the safety and security of the citizens living in the Saha and Abu T’shir communities of southern Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Koke Pomele, an infantry squad leader attached to the 1st BCT, 4th ID, MND-Baghdad, answers questions of a resident Son of Iraq (Abna al-Iraq) during cordon and search operations around the Saha apartments in the southeastern Rashid District of Baghdad. Photo by Staff Sgt. Brent Williams.“We want to build a relationship to give the people a normal life – to bring the resources into the community,” said Lt. Col. Scott Reineke, commander, 2nd “Cougars” Sqdn., 2nd Stryker Cav. Regt., MND-B. “This is about building relations in Abu T’shir and Saha,” said Reineke to his commanders and staff officers during the unit’s final rehearsal for a three-phase operation that began, April 16, in support of 1st BCT’s Operation Raider Typhoon.

Stationed at Vilseck, Germany, and deployed as part of the “surge” force sent to reinforce security in support of MND-B and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Stryker infantry unit, will handover their areas of responsibility [AOR] to the troops of 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Regt., 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., in May.

In the meantime, the Soldiers of Co. F, occupying a combat outpost in northeast Rashid, want to take a few more bad guys off the streets before they leave Baghdad. “We are conducting point operations to improve security for the people of Iraq,” said Capt. Kevin Ryan, commander, Co. F, 2nd Sqdn., 2nd Stryker Cav. Regt. “Once security improves, we can focus on improving the quality of life for the people of Abu T’shir and southeastern Rashid.”

The ongoing clearing operations are part of 1st “Raider” BCT’s first effort since assuming its mission, April 13, to deny terrorists and criminal elements a safe haven in the area that is home to approximately 1.2 million citizens in Baghdad. The three-phased operation is reminiscent of the same work that the squadron has undertaken since the unit assumed responsibility for the area in August, said Ryan, a native of Quincy, Mass., and a graduate of the Citadel Military Academy, S.C.

Soldiers conducted pinpoint raids, April 16-17, acting on military intelligence and information from Sons of Iraq (Abna al-Iraq), to capture some of MND-B’s most wanted terrorists and criminals, said Ryan, who is on his third deployment to Iraq.

The units then transitioned into the second phase of their operations, conducting ongoing atmospherics in the neighborhoods, working with the SoI, the sheiks, and members of the local community, to gather data with the intent to build better relations with the predominately Shia and mixed Sunni-Shia communities, he explained. “People who are sitting on the fence, and don’t know which way to go, will go our way just because we talked with them,” Ryan explained. “If we do this right, we will build relationships with the people which will empower them to be able to keep these bad guys from coming back into their neighborhoods.”

Conducting census operations, checkpoint inspections, joint patrols, combined operations and traffic control points with Iraqi security forces is nothing out of the ordinary for the Stryker Soldiers, said Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Huie, a platoon sergeant assigned to Co. F, 2nd Sqdn., 2nd Stryker Cav. Regt. “Us walking through the neighborhoods – that is an everyday thing,” he explained. Early morning operations hunting down 1st BCT’s most wanted criminals is just an added bonus for the ‘Fox’ Soldiers, said Huie, a 19-year veteran, who hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., and is the company’s acting first sergeant while his senior non-commissioned officer is on environmental leave.

“Our preferred method is to knock, and 90 percent of the people are more than willing to let us in,” stated Huie. “Conversely, if we find a house that looks suspicious to us, or a family that looks suspicious to us, and they don’t want to let us in their house, sometimes we have to cut their locks. “We may not see the results in the next three weeks, but I think this (operation) is going to generate a lot of tips and a lot more leads … and eventually we will get them,” added Huie. “Whether the people like it or not, we are coming through their whole neighborhood to get these criminals off the streets.”

The company’s mission has varied greatly during their time as a “surge unit” operating in southern Baghdad since August of 2007, said Huie. The Fox Soldiers have worked throughout Saha and Abu T’shir in southeastern Rashid to assist with essential services, force protection for Iraqi contractors to fix sewage or electricity issues in the Iraqi mulhallas (neighborhoods), as well as providing over watch for ISF and SOI manning checkpoints, providing security for the local communities, he said.

Staff Sgt. Scott Campbell, squad leader, Co. F, 2nd Sqdn., 2nd Stryker Cav. Regt., said that he hopes to see more changes for the better as the unit prepares to leave Baghdad for the unit’s future mission in Baquaba. “There’s a better peace now, than there was before the ‘surge,’” said Campbell, a native of Orlando.

Campbell a veteran of 11 years, said that in three deployments in support of OIF, from 2003 to today, he has seen many changes, especially in the security situation around southern Baghdad. “I think that when we go around and meet the locals and get to know them better on a personal basis, they become more at ease with us,” he explained. “The more we get to talk with them the better they trust us; the more they like us.”

Campbell said that in addition to improving security, units must continue to work to improve the infrastructure to better meet the needs of the Iraqi people. “They need to improve faster,” he said. “Iraqis need to start pushing a lot more effort into rebuilding their infrastructure; power, water, medical treatment, jobs, ways to create jobs. Stuff that could be making them money is not making them money right now, and I believe that we need to pursue those endeavors more.”

The Cougars will begin their third phase of the operations in May, as they begin to transition the Abu T’shir and Saha neighborhoods to 7th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Regt., 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B.

Freedom Facts: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ $288.5 million hospital program includes 25 renovation projects at 20 hospitals that focus on children’s and maternity care. Two new hospitals also are being constructed in Basrah and Maysan provinces. Currently, we have completed 17 of the projects, with the remaining eight (8) renovations expected to be completed by May 2008..

Source: Multi-National Force - Iraq. Digg! Digg!

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