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Key Patrol Base Takes Shape

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Friday, 21 March 2008
Sgt. Ben Brod
4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — In a bid to establish a formidable U.S. security presence near Suwayrah, Iraq, Soldiers began construction Saturday of Patrol Base Summers amid the ruins of a former Iraqi Air Force Base.

In a huge convoy of fighting vehicles and tractor trailers, Soldiers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, attached to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, pushed toward the Tigris River from Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq.

In stark contrast to the push to set up Patrol Base Kelsey, Iraq, in December, Soldiers encountered almost no resistance and found the destroyed base uninhabited.

“I think there was a ‘shock and awe’ effect on the local people, to see so much combat power arrive so suddenly,” explained Capt. James Browning, Company A commander.

As part of the company secured the patrol base area, Company A’s Red Platoon and Iraqi Army Soldiers swept through a neighboring village, shaking hands and greeting their new neighbors over chai.

Their Bradleys and Humvees idling on the main road, Soldiers spent nearly eight hours walking from house to house by the shortest route possible – often through barnyards full of huge cows.

“It’s sometimes tough to tell when you first meet people, but the Iraqis seem pretty receptive to us being here,” said 1st Lt. Stephen Eldridge, Company A fire support officer. “Some people offered us chai and they were all waving to us when we left. We certainly did our best to make a good first impression.”

Soldiers from Red Platoon and Iraqi troops cataloged residents’ personal weapons and met with the village sheikh.

Soldiers from 703rd BSB will continue to bring supplies and Company A will continue to build up the base during the last two months of their deployment, Browning said.

“By the time we leave, I’d like to see the patrol base fully operational, to the point where a company can come in and set up their operations in 24 hours,” said Browning, who is from Waynesville, N.C.

The base will serve as a launching point for essential services projects to the neighboring communities and Suwayrah, as well as combat operations.

“Tactically, this spot is key to controlling the larger brigade’s area of operations – you can stage lots of equipment here and there’s a good standoff distance from civilian roads and houses,” Browning said. “Partnering with the Iraqi Security Forces, we can make inroads into Suwayrah.”

Lt. Col. Majid, commander of Suwayrah’s 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 8th IA Division, sends his troops to work with Company A on joint patrols.

“The big thing here is providing essential services to the people – they’re proud of their communities and fought hard to kick al-Qaeda out,” Browning said. “The farmers here depend on their crops, which means they need water and electricity. With us here, we can help the Government of Iraq provide those services.”

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