NEWS | Aug. 17, 2008

Iraqi troops fill Georgians' security role

By Sgt. First Class Joe Thompson , 41st Fires Brigade

An Iraqi Army Soldier keeps watch from a guard tower at Joint Security Site 2. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tiffany Dusterhoft)
An Iraqi Army Soldier keeps watch from a guard tower at Joint Security Site 2. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tiffany Dusterhoft)

FOB DELTA, Iraq (August 15, 2008) — The 32nd Iraqi Army Brigade immediately offered their help to maintain security in Wasit province when word broke of the 1st Georgian Brigade’s departure from Iraq.

“We knew it was unfortunate that the Georgians had to leave, but it provided us with the opportunity to take an active role in securing the checkpoints along the main routes in Wasit,” said Brig. Gen. Abed Gabr Mazloum, commander of the 32nd IA Brigade.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment are partnering with the IA Soldiers at the checkpoints and patrol bases in Wasit.

“We are working hand-in-hand with our Iraqi partners,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Bush, commander, 2-20 FA.

“They have the lead in running the traffic control points, and we plan on training them in patrol base operations, temporary traffic control points and presence patrols around their respective patrol bases,” said Bush.

“The people of Wasit need to know that the Iraqi Army is here to help maintain their safety and security, and we are very fortunate to have our great friends, the Americans, by our side in this mission,” said Abed.

Abed began working with Col. Richard M. Francey Jr., commander of 41st Fires Brigade, to develop an actionable plan to sustain the security situation in Wasit. In less than 24 hours, both units sent Soldiers to man the checkpoints and patrol bases previously occupied by the 1st Georgian Brigade.“We began planning with our Iraqi partners to take over the Georgian mission as soon as we found out they may have to go home,” said Francey.

“Brig. Gen. Abed was very supportive in sending Iraqi Army Soldiers out to the different checkpoints to help fill the positions left by the Georgians, ensuring the safe and stable security situation in Wasit remained the same.”

The relationships fostered by the 32nd IA Military Training Team enabled Iraqi and U.S. forces to implement a plan rapidly. The MiTT has been working with the 32nd IA Brigade for the last three months.

“The relationships that we have fostered played a vital role in the cooperative effort to take on the immediate security mission in the province,” said Maj. Kirk Calloway, 32nd IA MiTT adviser.

“The Iraqi Soldiers we have been working with have been very eager and professional in improving how they conduct their day-to-day operations,” said Calloway.

These positive relationships further ensured a smooth transition of the Georgians’ missions at three checkpoints and Patrol Base Shocker.

“We were able to reposition our forces to enable the Georgians to begin movement back to Georgia in a very short period,” said Maj. E.J. Karlberg, operations officer for the 41st Fires Brigade.

“All but a small contingent of Georgians were flown back to Georgia by Monday, and those left behind are working on getting the rest of the Georgian equipment loaded up and sent back home,” said Karlberg.