U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jeff Caslen (right), a platoon leader with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, and a Fort Leavenworth, Kan., native, talks with an Iraqi National Police officer (center) during a joint counter-improvised explosive device patrol in Baghdad, Oct. 23, 2010. (Photo by Cpl. Daniel Eddy)
BAGHDAD (Nov. 4, 2010) — U.S. Soldiers joined members of the Iraqi National Police on a joint patrol to assess the security needs of the Iraqi capital and build relationships with its residents, Oct. 23.
Although the U.S. Soldiers, with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, and the NP combined efforts for this counter-improvised explosive device patrol, the Iraqis were encouraged to take the lead and handle any situations that might arise.
“We really try and push Iraqis first,” said 2nd Lt. Jeff Caslen, a platoon leader with Btry. A, 1st Bn., 41st FA Regt., and a Fort Leavenworth, Kan., native. “If something happens, we will have the Iraqis go into the house and ask the questions, and we will help secure the area with the other [National] Police [officers].”
As U.S. and Iraqi forces progress through Operation New Dawn, bases aren’t all that are being transferred. United States Forces - Iraq is also transferring skill sets to the Iraqis, as U.S. forces continue to draw down responsibly.
“It’s all about putting the [NP] and the Iraqi Army in a position where they will be able to take control of all the security operations across Iraq,” said Sgt. Matt Williams, an intelligence analyst with Btry. A, 1st Bn., 41st FA Regt., and a Rutland, Mass., native.
Williams said a person must understand the Iraqi culture to be able to teach and pass down the training to rebuild the IA.
Caslen said the Iraqis have made immense progress but are still learning. The U.S. Soldiers continue to show support as they guide the Iraqis through tasks such as methods to deter the enemy from using indirect fire. These types of missions also help demonstrate to the citizens that the NP is capable and can keep the public safe.
Caslen said the Iraqis have made several improvements, such as being proactive in addressing threats, whereas before, they would simply react to situations. Another improvement to the NP capabilities is its officers’ ability to plan missions, not only jointly with the Americans, but missions on their own as well. He said the constant joint missions and patrols have started to pay off, with the Iraqis taking control and performing tasks without being told.
Williams said when he goes on patrol with the Iraqis, he can tell they have been trained properly and are ready to take over.
“[The Iraqis] are starting to emulate a lot of our actions,” he said. “Their general security posture, everything they do on patrol—they are getting the principles we, as Soldiers, try to apply to a situation.”
Caslen said not all the ideas work for the Iraqis as they do for the Americans, so they will adapt some of the U.S. principles to fit more with their needs to help build a good relationship with the neighborhood.
As the partnership between Iraqi and American forces continues, U.S. Soldiers will benefit from these joint missions in ways they did not before.
“[When] you see the Iraqis … very comfortable where they are, you will know this area may not be so bad.” Caslen said. “We are always watching out, but we get a good read from the [National] Police on the area, and they will also give us some good insight.”
Caslen said it is rewarding to help with the rebuilding effort in Iraq.
“I feel very good, knowing I can make a difference,” he said, “not only in America, but here in Iraq. Everyone wants to make an impact on the world.”