Courtesy of Multi-National Force Iraq; Operation Iraqi Freedom
Partners disrupting accelerant flow
Soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment have new partners in their efforts to stop accelerant flow into Baghdad.
The 2nd Battalion Wassit Emergency Response Force is now working alongside its Coalition counterparts from the “Dragon Battalion” to establish traffic control points to disrupt the flow of bomb-making material along major thoroughfares southeast of Baghdad.
The 1-15th Inf. Regt., 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, deployed to Iraq in March 2007 and immediately established combat outposts among the communities southeast of Baghdad. As a part of the surge, the Soldiers of 1-15th Inf. Regt. assumed the mission of hindering the flow of insurgents and bomb-making material as they moved north.
Capt. John Horning, commander, Company C, said when the 1-15th Inf. Regt. began conducting missions in early April, traffic control points along the Al Kut Highway were nothing more than “traffic observation” points.
The 3rd platoon of Company C has joined with the ERF to along the Al Kut Highway, near Wahida. The Al Kut highway is lined with businesses in many places and contains key commercial zones in the Fort Benning, Ga., soldiers’ area of operations. The road has also seen the highest number of roadside bombs in the battalion’s area of operations.
The ERF, also known as the “Lions of Wassit,” bring experienced leaders and soldiers onto the Coalition team. Horning said many of the Lions are former Iraqi army paratroopers. Soldiers of the unit maintain higher standards of discipline than many other ISF units and are very well trained, he said.
“They don’t lack motivation, and they don’t lack individual skills,” Horning said. “They are … fearless.”
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Darnell, 3rd platoon sergeant, Company C, concurs.
“They weren’t the regular soldiers under Saddam’s regime,” said Darnell. “The tactics they use are a little more advanced than what we see with the regular Iraqi Security Forces.”
Horning thinks the success of the Lions can easily be seen.
“The best evidence of their success is how quiet it has been along the Al Kut Highway in our area,” Horning said. “All the EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that we have seen have been outside of their area of operations.”
Besides hindering terrorist activity, the combined traffic control operations provide an opportunity for 1-15th Inf. Regt. Soldiers and ERF personnel to work together and learn from each other. The Company C initiative is focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of traffic control points conducted by the ERF.
Horning believes that while the ERF soldiers possess individual skills above their ISF peers, he also sees where the unit can improve as a whole. Horning said battalion-level planning and “conditions setting” would be areas in which he would like to see the Lions improve.
Even with some deficiencies, Horning said he thinks the ERF help his company greatly.
“Their ability to gather human intelligence is way beyond ours,” said Horning. “We rely on technology and they bring the human element. They complete the puzzle.”