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Company to help ISF develop long range surveillance assets

Nov 10, 2009

By Sgt. Lindsey Bradford, Multi-National Corps-Iraq Public Affairs Office

With saws grinding and hammers thumping away in the background, Soldiers of Company C, 38th Long Range Surveillance are busy training and preparing for the mission that lay ahead of them- training their Iraqi counterparts to successfully establish LRS teams.

"Our mission is to collect priority intelligence requirements for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq commanding general," said Capt. Zach Corke, 38th LRS commander. "We also want to focus on the Iraqi intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance brigades that are down here, that way we can share our techniques and get those guys trained up."

Right now, the Iraqis are starting to establish ISR units. Soldiers in the LRS company will be essential in helping Iraqi Security Forces asses which people will be better candidates for this type of team, said Corke, a Pittsburgh native.

"Mainly, we are going to teach them how to conduct accurate reporting in a timely fashion," he said.

Accurate collection and reporting are what Soldiers of the 38th LRS company have been expertly trained to do.

"We went to a reconnaissance surveillance leader's course, which is run by the Ranger Training Brigade down at Fort Benning, Ga.," Corke said. "That course focuses on skills and techniques of gathering intelligence through conducting reconnaissance and surveillance."

The company is part of the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, out of Fort Lewis, Wash., and is I Corps' only airborne asset. It consists of a headquarters section containing forward observers, transportation specialists, medics and sniper teams. There are also three LRS platoons and one communications platoon.

The majority of the company is airborne-qualified, and most of the infantry Soldiers have attended U.S. Army Ranger school.

Some of the senior noncommissioned officers and seasoned combat veterans said that this deployment will be different than those they completed in the past.

"When I deployed before, we were out all the time. We patrolled every day," said Michigan native Staff Sgt. Daniel Bahruth, 38th LRS assistant training noncommissioned officer.

Sgt. 1st Class Bradley Shaw, a detachment sergeant with the 38th LRS company from Hamptonville, N.C., said that not only is it different not going out on daily missions, but the layout of the COB has been something new to adjust to.

"I'm not use to living and working in two different places. On other deployments, we would live, eat, sleep and train all in the same place," said Shaw.

Regardless of the new circumstances and the transformation from combat to advise and assist roles, Corke said it won't hinder the way the company conducts missions.

"I think it changes the way everyone does business, but this adds a unique flavor to (the deployment), because we can still do our mission and we can definitely help (the Iraqis) be more proficient in their mission," Corke said.

Corke said that his Soldiers will be successful by taking previous-learned knowledge in the field and teaching their Iraqi counterparts to apply those to their current operating procedures.

"Hopefully we can help them add another layer, another skill set to their units," said Corke.

Corke said the true gauge of success will be measured 10 or 11 months from now, when he can sit in the tactical operations center and monitor an Iraqi Army or ISF element conduct surveillance on a named area of interest by themselves and accurately report back the findings.

"When that happens, I think that will be a home run," said Corke.

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