SHAKKAT, Iraq – U.S. Army paratroopers and Iraqi army soldiers took to the skies in the hopes of finding weapons caches during a combined air assault operation, July 31.
The mission dubbed "Operation Mufa-Ja'ah" paired paratroopers assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division– Baghdad and Iraqi soldiers from the 9th Iraqi Army Div. together in order to conduct a helicopter insertion to deny enemy forces from storing any weapons in a small town in the Ma'dain region, located outside of eastern Baghdad.
"The main objective of this mission was to search for weapons caches and gather information in the town of Shakkat," said Capt. Kip Kowalski, of Seattle, the commanding officer for Company D.
During the hours-long mission, Iraqi soldiers cleared more than 60 buildings, many of them abandoned, and asked nearby residents about any suspicious activity in the area. A majority of the civilians were cooperating with the ISF as their U.S. counterparts provided security on the perimeter of the buildings.
After searching the remote town and battling the bumpy terrain, the combined forces left empty handed. However, despite not finding any weapons both U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers deemed the mission a victory because it allowed them the opportunity to continue to grow as partners.
"Even though we didn't find any caches, the operation was still a success." said Sgt. 1st Class Aldo Delgado, of Los Angeles, a platoon sergeant with Co. D. "The mission gave us an opportunity to work alongside the IA, and it help them improve on some weak points."
Delgado added that everyone understood their role in the operation and executed the objective effectively.
"The overall purpose of this operation was to ensure the population of Shakkat was safe and to put an Iraqi face in our operations, I feel we did exactly that," he said.
Q-West Force Protection Company Shows Flexibility With Convoy Escort
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — In a continued effort to draw down excess equipment, a Mississippi Army National Guard unit conducted a convoy mission from Contingency Operating Location Q-West to Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Nov. 9.
Soldiers with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, a mechanized infantry unit out of Hernando, Miss., serving as COL Q-West's force protection company, escorted 40th Transportation Company tractor trailers loaded with vehicles and equipment.
A Co. Soldiers have been conducting force protection missions up to now, but they performed well during their first convoy escort mission, said Capt. Drew Clark, company commander from Madison, Miss.
The planning process resembled previous mission in terms of organizing and assigning tasks, said Clark.
"We follow a standard procedure the planning process of every mission outside the wire, and planning for this convoy security mission wasn't much different, said Clark. "The platoon leader and convoy commander develop a concept of the operation, which is a one-page representation of the mission drawn on a map. This is one of the visual tools they use during their mission brief. They also build a patrol manifest and risk assessment packet. They submit all these to me for my review and approval. I send them up to battalion for review and approval."
The convoy security mission had one significant difference from previous missions outside the base, said 2nd Lt. Jeffery T. Watkins, 2nd Platoon Leader.
This mission went well I believe because of the prior route recons that my crews had executed.
"The biggest differences in the planning were including convoy support center yard operations and mastering the briefing process," said Watkins, a Biloxi, Miss., native. "My fellow platoon leaders from other companies assisted me greatly by sharing samples of their briefs. Also, I did a leaders recon of the CSC yard and studied the procedures required before you can exit the base."
Watkins said that he learned how position the military tractor trailers (also called "green trucks") they were to escort, crews and vehicles from the 40th Transportation Company, 57th Transportation Battalion out of Fort Lewis, Wash. He said he also determined where he needed to position his beach master, the non-commissioned officer in charge of positioning vehicles in the yard. His beach master, Sgt. Dreamus Harron, ensured the correct disposition of green trucks and platoon's gun trucks, allowing the convoy to exit the yard in the correct order of march.
Watkins said that his job was to coordinate between the gun trucks and the green trucks. The convoy commander was Staff Sgt. Kenwith Scott, he said.
"We did a rehearsal of everything the day prior to the mission's execution," said Watkins. "Staff Sgt. Scott and his assistant convoy commander, Sgt. Claybon Turner, went through the brief for me and Cpt. Clark, and we gave him suggestions for revising and for briefing. Staff Sgt. Scott lined his squad trucks up in the company area as we do before every mission, and Cpt. Clark and I inspected their vehicles to ensure everything was in place for the next day."
The mission was routine and uneventful, said Clark
"The convoy had to stop a couple times because of issues with the green trucks," said Clark. "One truck had an overheating engine and another truck had to hook up to the load. We also stopped because a green truck had to readjust its load tie-downs. Otherwise, we had no issues."
During these halts, the A Co. gun trucks performed their security duties according to well-rehearsed battle drills, said Watkins.
"Once we got on the road, the mission was basically the same as other missions we've done, such as route reconnaissance," said Watkins. "During the halts, my Soldiers secured the convoy and got a good accountability. We had no issues."
Clark said that one reason for their success is that they are versatile learners, adapting quickly to changes in tactics, operations and missions.
"We sent out the quick reaction force once to round up 19 civilian trucks stranded in Mosul without military security," said Clark, "but that wasn't a full blown convoy escort. We went out there and brought them back to Q-West, and we didn't go through the longer planning process for normal convoy missions."
The Soldiers have to stay flexible, said Watkins.
"We constantly have different missions," said Watkins. "Besides being the QRF, we've done route reconnaissance, perimeter patrols, security for missions to the Qayyarah pump house and along the water pipeline and patrol base operations out of the pump house. We come from the infantry, and convoy escort is similar to patrolling. We might have to plan differently, but we have a lot of experience with patrolling."
The range of missions is good for morale, said Watkins, because it keeps the Soldiers fresh—not doing the same thing every day.
The diverse missions also help to build confident and competent leaders, said Clark. Squad leaders and team leaders must step up and help plan and execute the missions, and this develops them professionally, he said.
"The Soldiers adapt real quick to changes in tactics, operations and missions," said Clark. "The key to our success is the noncommissioned officer leadership in this company."
One Soldier who has seen his responsibilities increase is Sgt. Claybon Turner, assistant convoy commander on the mission and veteran of the 155th HBCT's 2005 deployment to Iraq.
"This is my first time as assistant convoy commander on a big mission," said Turner, a Eudora, Miss., native. "We had a lot of planning to do, and that's the biggest difference between this deployment and my last deployment to Iraq. Back then, I wasn't an NCO and didn't have as much responsibility. I had to make sure I was ready for missions, and now I have a crew to manage. This time, I've learned a lot about mission planning and administrative paperwork."
Sgt. Dreamus Harron, a vehicle commander from Brookhaven, Miss., is another veteran of the brigade's last deployment who has shouldered greater responsibility.
"During the last deployment, I wasn't a team leader, so this time I had to mature a lot," said Harron. "There's a lot I didn't understand before. Now I know the big picture, all the things that go into preparing for missions."
Harron also finds himself nurturing future leaders in the company.
"My crew is totally new, just out of basic," said Harron. "Before we deployed, they were scared. I had to work with them to build their confidence. They didn't know what to expect, but now they know and they step up. My crew has come a long way and grown tight. The whole platoon has really come together over the last months."
Staff Sgt. Kenwith Scott, convoy commander from Rosedale, Miss., said that the deployment has developed him as a small unit leader.
"I am a stronger NCO now," said Scott. "I had to learn more about personnel and administrative paperwork. I've also learned more about planning operations. All of these are good management skills and will help me in the future."
Scott said that he believes in the importance the U.S. presence in Iraq.
"What I want people back home to know is that the U.S. military is doing important work over here," said Scott. "We're here to help give Iraqis something Americans take for granted – the right to have a choice in their government and in their lives."
US Army Soldiers during a combat life-saver qualification course, Aug. 21, at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq, located outside eastern Baghdad. Dirar is a mechanic assigned to Company A, 82nd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad. 2009
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - Soldiers from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and Operations Group participated in the Pre-Ranger Assessment Course hosted by the Blackhorse here Nov. 3-5.
The course consisted of the Ranger Physical Fitness Test, Combat Water Survival Training, an obstacle course, and a 12-mile foot march that had to be completed in less than three hours. Pre-Ranger candidates also executed in intensive classes that focused on basic soldiering skills and leadership in a field environment.
All of the tasks were completed in three days and under conditions of minimal sleep and food, said Staff Sgt. Tomas Acosta, the Regiment's non-commissioned officer-in-charge of schools.
Originally, the course was planned as a parallel of the Army National Guard's 14-day Pre-Ranger Course in Fort Benning, Ga. However, due to the 11th ACR's mission of rotational support, it had to be shortened, Acosta said.
"What we decided to do, was instead of having an actual two week pre-ranger course, we have the Pre-Ranger Assessment," Acosta said. "Basically, it is designed to weed out the ones who won't be able to pass the first week of Ranger School."
The 11th ACR's Pre-Ranger Assessment Course mirrors the Ranger Assessment Program, or RAP Week, at the U.S. Army Ranger School in Fort Benning.
First, Soldiers took the Ranger Physical Fitness Test. The test consisted of two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups, and a five-mile run that had be completed in less than 40 minutes. After the run, the Soldiers had to perform six pull-ups under the watchful eye of the Pre-Ranger Instructors.
The Soldiers were then told whether or not they passed the RPFT. Those who failed were given the option to stay for the rest of the course and gain training from the experience, or they could quit. The Soldiers who stayed received a certificate of completion at the end of the course, but did not graduate. They will have to come back and graduate from the assessment before attending Ranger School, Acosta said.
Sgt. Sean T. Reardon, a Fredrick, Md., native, now a squad leader with Dragon Team, Operations Group, was one of the Soldiers who stayed to complete the course knowing he wouldn't graduate.
"If you want to be a Ranger, I have no idea why you wouldn't want to go to this Pre-Ranger course," Reardon said. "It's basically your study guide before the test."
During the Pre-Ranger Assessment Course, 26 Soldiers started and only four graduated, including the honor graduate, Spc. Raymond A. Martin, a grenadier with 1st Platoon, F Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR.
"I would recommend it to anybody who wants a leadership position or who just wants to be a better Soldier," said Martin, a Los Angeles native. "It totally painted a different picture for me. You had to be a platoon sergeant or a squad leader and had to learn their jobs. I learned how much actually goes into planning a mission."
As the honor graduate, Martin will be the first from his class to be able to attend the U.S. Army Ranger School. He gave advice to those attending the 11th ACR's Pre-Ranger Assessment Course in the future.
"Stay physically fit and learn the Ranger Creed," Martin said. "A lot of guys were tired. During class it was hard for them to stay awake. I took notes and really wanted to be there. You really have to want to do it."
Fire blazes out of the barrel of a 155 mm towed howitzer when U.S. Army members from Charlie Battery, 1-321 Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, Ft. Bragg, N.C., launch a round at Camp Wright, Afghanistan, Sept. 23, 2009. The team fired the weapon as part of a registry exercise where targets are pre-marked to increase speed and accuracy.
Always thought these 2 pictures were very dramatic images of the American G.I.
PFC. John Ploch, Freedom Village Korea 1953 released from years of Captivity has just found out he was listed as KIA to his family.
Sgt. George Lott, Combat Medic, hit by Mortar Fire in Lorraine France November 22, 1944 being patched up in a Evac Hospital. He was an Orphan from Upstate NY when he volunteered for service. He was still Hospitalized in 1947.
Personnel and equipment needed to save a man'life are assembled at HQs of the 8225th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Korea. October 14, 1951. Cpl. Charles Abrahamson. (Army)
An American mortar crew fires on the Communist North Korean invaders. 11 July 1950. Near Chochiwan, Korea. Signal Corps Photo #FEC-50-4100 (Turnbull)
Pfc. Roman Prauty, a gunner with 31st RCT (crouching foreground), with the assistance of his gun crew, fires a 75mm recoilless rifle, near Oetlook-tong, Korea, in support of infantry units directly across the valley. June 9, 1951. Peterson. (Army)
Near Song Sil-li, Korea, a tank of 6th Tank Bn. fires on enemy positions in support of the 19th RCT. January 10, 1952. Pfc. Harry M. Schultz. (Army)
Men of the 4.2 mortar crew, 31st Heavy Mortar Co. fire at enemy position, west of Chorwon, Korea. February 7, 1953. Sgt. Guy A. Kassal. (Army)
Infantrymen of the 27th Infantry Regiment, near Heartbreak Ridge, take advantage of cover and concealment in tunnel positions, 40 yards from the Communists. August 10, 1952. Feldman. (Army)
Fighting with the 2nd Inf. Div. north of the Chongchon River, Sfc. Major Cleveland, weapons squad leader, points out communist-led North Korean position to his machine gun crew. November 20, 1950. Pfc. James Cox. (Army)
Men of the 9th Inf. Regt. man an M-26 tank to await an enemy attempt to cross the Naktong River. September 3, 1950. Cpl. Thomas Marotta. (Army)
Catching up on his letters to the folks at home during a break Communist forces along the fighting front in Korea, is Pfc. Dwight Exe, 5th Cav. Regt. November 15, 1951. Cpl. James L. Chancellor. (Army)
Pfc. Preston McKnight, 19th Inf. Regt., uses his poncho to get protection from the biting wind and cold, in the Yoju area, during break in action against the Chinese Communist aggressors. Janurary 10, 1951. Cpl. E. Watson. (Army)
A patrol of Co. C, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, fire light machine guns on Chinese Communist troops located in the hills near Haejung, North Korea. Sfc. Forsyth, who photographed the action, was wounded shortly after recording this picture. 27 November 1950.
Pfc. Jack Lee of Wichita, Kan. (left), and Cpl. Joseph W. Thomas of Honolulu, T.H., fire their machine gun on Communist positions as United Nations forces attack a hill, three miles south of the 38th Parallel. 31 March 1951. Korea.
A machine gun team of an X Corps military police company goes into action to relieve a convoy pinned down by fire of the Chinese Communists, in Korea. 6 December1950. Korea
A .30 caliber light machine gun crew of the 5th RCT, 1st Cav. Div., fires on Communist-led North Koreans, as they push toward Taejon, Korea.
22 September 1950. Korea.
A .50 Cal. Machine gun squad of Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, fires on North Korean patrols along the north bank of the Naktong River, Korea. 26 August 1950. Korea.
American troops blasting Yongdok with their 105-mm howitzer.
23 July 1950. Yongdok, Korea.
Captain J. W. Finley of Hazelhurst, Ga., Co. F, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, although suffering from severe neck and face wounds as a result of an exploding Chinese grenade, braces himself upright between two jeeps and refuses to leave until he has finished directing first aid treatment and evacuation of wounded men of his company. 22 February 1951. Korea.
Men of Co. K, 35th RCT, 25th Division, fire a light machine gun in support of a rifle platoon attacking Chinese Communist positions north of the Han River, Korea. 7 March 1951. Korea.
Pfc. Miles Adair of Leon, Io, (left) and Sgt. Norbert Brzycki of Chicago, Ill., infantrymen of the 5th RCT, dig in on a hill captured from the Chinese Communist forces overlooking the Han River, Korea, as UN troops continue their offensive in the area. 7 February 1951. Korea.
Men of Battery B, 15th AAA Battalion, 7th Infantry Division, fire quadruple .50 caliber machine guns from an M-16 at Chinese Communist-held positions, as men of the 3rd Battalion, 32nd RCT, 7th Inf. Div., prepare to launch an attack north of Chae-jae, Korea. 12 March 1951. Korea.