Airman, Marine Help Iraqi Commandos to Communicate
By Sgt. Matt Murphy, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
SAMARRA, Iraq, March 9, 2005 Instead of being surrounded by electronic equipment in an office, a U.S. airman and Marine found themselves setting up communications during an active combat mission as part of an Iraqi Ministry of the Interior operation.
U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Billie Lowell checks radio communications in an Iraqi police commando truck in Samarra, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Matt Murphy, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Billie Lowell and Marine Capt. Steve Monsour are spending several days working with Iraqi security forces as they clear the city of Samarra, Iraq, and its surrounding villages of terrorists and insurgents.
According to Col. Jim Coffman, a special adviser with Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, it's essential in an operation this size to have high-frequency radio communications and a repeater to help transmit signals.
"Watching the Iraqis execute missions is great. Setting up their radios is a small part of the operation, but just being here on a combat mission and witnessing how well coordinated the Iraqi forces perform raids and capture insurgents makes it worth getting out of the office," Monsour said.
While testing radio frequencies, Monsour also had the opportunity to see Iraqi police commandos from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, bring suspects into custody during a raid in an outlying village.
During a raid mission, Lowell had the opportunity to program a radio to hone in frequencies to provide better communications for the Iraqi teams. An Iraqi officer on the mission complimented Lowell for her work with the radios. The officer said his ability to talk to his teams maintained order during times they needed to change directions and pursue another course of action.
"This is a unique experience for me, because we rarely have the opportunity to go to the field in the Air Force," Lowell said. "This is a side of the war that I otherwise wouldn't see. Providing and coordinating communications for the Iraqi teams is something that is really important for them. The tactics the Iraqis use are constantly changing so good communications is absolutely necessary."
(Army Sgt. Matt Murphy is assigned to the Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.)