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Iraqi, U.S. units share lessons learned

Multi-National Force-Iraq

2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD -- The unity of Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces was demonstrated July 9 at Forward Operating Base Loyalty when leaders of the 2nd Public Order Brigade met with the leadership of 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division to discuss a recent joint operation.

The two united forces had launched Operation Bow Country during the early-morning hours of July 5 to clear areas in far east Baghdad of enemy activity, to find weapons and ammunition caches, and to develop intelligence on terrorist activity. The operation captured numerous weapons including a howitzer, an air defense weapon, rockets, rifles, pistols and ammunition.

“Bow Country was a great success,” said Lt. Col. Steven Merkel, commander, 1-9 FA. “The key to success in Iraq is having a high-quality ISF who are respected and trusted with the confidence of the people. I am confident we are on the right track.”

But the July 9 meeting was not a celebration of their accomplishments—it was an after action review to ensure lessons were learned.

“The AAR process is one of the great hallmarks of the way the US Army does business,” Merkel said. “When we conduct an operation, we do everything we can to learn from the experience: what went right, what went wrong, what can we do better, and what should we sustain? It is an open dialogue and no one is allowed to have a thin skin. I think it is one of the reasons we have such a fantastic Army. We are ready to learn from everything we do.”

This was the POB's second time joining the “Battlekings” of 1-9 FA for an AAR .

“The AAR process is very helpful,” said one Iraqi officer who preferred not to be identified. “I think both the U.S. Army and the Iraqi Soldiers here got a lot out of it. We are getting better with each passing day and already we are actively engaging the terrorists in our zone. I don't think it will be long before the terrorists realize that Iraq and our people do not want them here.”

One advisor to the POB echoed the Iraqi officer's observations. “They get better every day,” sad Maj. John Hinrichs, U.S. Special Police Advisor Team.

“The Iraqi people are encouraged by what they see of this POB. They are working in concert with the Coalition Forces and are having a lot of success,” said Lt. Col. Robert Kerecz, chief of the advisor team.

As Merkel watched the intermingled Iraqi and Coalition Soldiers telling each other tall tales and enjoying a mixture of Army dining facility standards as well as delicacies from a local Iraqi caterer, he could not help but add, “This meeting builds a comradeship with our Iraqi brothers. I am as proud of what the Iraqi Security Forces are accomplishing here as I am of my warriors in Battlekings.”


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