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Soldiers securing Iraq's elections

By Sgt. David Brill

BAGHDAD (Army News Service, Oct. 14, 2005) -- As Iraqi citizens vote in the Oct. 15 Constitutional Referendum, they’ll do so with a better sense of security, thanks to Iraqi and Coalition Soldiers.

In the manner that Americans and many in the democratic world take for granted, Iraqis will cast their up or down vote this weekend for their first draft Constitution.

More than 200,000 Iraqi Security Forces in the lead of security for this day with the Multi-National Force-Iraq -- a Coalition of 28 nations in support of security operations across Iraq -- are dedicated to ensure a safe and secure environment for those wishing to vote.

MNF-I will post information and photographs throughout the day, ensuring the public can view photos and stories of the day’s events as Iraq takes another set in its forward progress toward a maturing democracy. The site can be viewed at www.mnf-iraq.com/dia for the latest information. For other information concerning MNF-I, visit the main site at www.mnf-iraq.com.

48th BCT to secure southwest Baghdad

One of the 48th Brigade Combat Team's top priorities is to assist Iraqi security forces in securing the polling sites in the neighborhoods of southwest Baghdad. Brigade Soldiers have been busy placing concrete barriers around those sites.

The focus of the barrier movement plan is to limit the disruption to daily activities of the local population, so the major effort of emplacing the barriers is done during non-peak hours in the city.

“We don’t want to interfere with commerce,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Edge, commander of the 148th Support Battalion, which is responsible for transporting the concrete barriers to the various polling sites for emplacement. “We want the emplacements to go quickly with the least possible impact on the civilian population.”

Concrete barriers ordered two months ago

The brigade ordered about 1,400 barriers for the effort. The planning began more than 60 days ago as officials ordered the materials from a concrete plant near Baghdad International Airport.

Iraqi soldiers provided security with an outer cordon, while the concrete barriers and concertina wire were put into place by several battalions from 48th BCT.

“No one company or battalion could have accomplished this mission,” said Maj. John Davis, operations officer for the 648th Engineer Bn. “The synchronization and cooperation between all the units allowed the mission to be completed ahead of schedule with a minimum of disruption to the local population.”

Soldiers make it safe for Sunnis to vote

With a mostly Sunni population in the 48th’s area of operation, the goal is that everyone will have the opportunity to cast a vote for Iraq’s future.

“If we get something good from the referendum, it will be better for everyone,” said Hassan Abdulah a Sunni farmer who was on hand to watch barriers being placed around an elementary school in his neighborhood.

“We need peace and security,” Abdulah said. “The coalition forces do a good job for us here.”

Within the brigade’s area of operation there are 24 prospective polling sites, which the 48th BCT units have been busy making secure for the referendum vote.

“Our Soldiers recognize that they are not here to influence the election, but they are here to allow the Iraqi people the opportunity to vote,” Edge said.

(Editor's note: Sgt. David Brill is with the 48th BCT PAO)



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