Troops in Iraq Conduct Successful 'Mother's Day' Patrol
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 14, 2006 In another place and in another time, Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Long may have been loading up the family to take them to a Mother's Day brunch. Instead, he was briefing his C Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry team on the mission they were about to perform.
A cavalry scout escorts an Iraqi to his car near Taji, Iraq, during a Mothers Day "presence patrol." The car was broken down at the side of the road. Soldiers check out all of these in case the occupants are using a ruse to plant and improvised explosive device. Photo by Jim Garamone
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Long led the cavalrymen on a "presence patrol" to this village near Camp Taji, to assure people the coalition is there. The team often uses these patrols to drop off flyers with useful information to the people.
The team pulled out of its Camp Taji staging area at the hottest part of the day. A clear sky and warm sun put the mercury over 100 degrees. That plus the "full battle rattle" - Kevlar helmet, interceptor body armor and added protection for the gunners - made this an endurance test.
Just before they left the base, they got a reminder of what they are facing: examples of improvised explosive devices along the roadside. "That's the main threat out here," Long said.
The team looks for evidence of recent digging "or anything that looks out of the ordinary," said Staff Sgt. Dan Rager. "We have been here four months now. We know what looks out of place."
The patrol went through Taji Market, a strip of road with a variety of open shops offering a wide range of merchandise.
As the patrol headed to Hor al Bash, the lead vehicle spotted a white sedan on the roadside. Everyone stopped. The soldiers piled out of their vehicles and established a quick perimeter. Cars often pretend to be broken down when the occupants are really planting IEDs, the team members explained. Fortunately, this one really didn't run and the occupants were on the up-and-up.
The patrol ran through Hor al Bash and turned along a canal road. As they went along, soldiers spotted fresh dirt across the road. They stopped at a local sheikh's house to ask about it. As it turned out, some children were trying to build a speed bump so local cars wouldn't speed down the lane. "They need to tell us that," Long said after ascertaining what was happening. "That's a good way to get shot."
The patrol stopped at an Iraqi army checkpoint on a major route in the area. The Iraqis, members of the 2nd Brigade, 9th Division, base three tanks and two BMP armored personnel carriers at the site. The soldiers stay at the site for 21 days at a time and keep track of the peoples' comings and goings and stop suspicious vehicles.
A little farther on, at the intersection of two major routes, is a U.S.-manned checkpoint. The Americans pull 24-hour duty in a sandpit. Humvees rise over the barriers and gunners examine the roads to ensure insurgents are not planting IEDs or harassing the people.
Finally, the patrol then turned back to Camp Taji. The soldiers often conduct dismounted patrols, but this day it was enough to let the people see them and know they are there, the soldiers explained.
The team checked out a number of things, spoke with groups of people and came home safely. All in all, they declared it a very good Mother's Day patrol.