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1st Air Cav, IA, IqAF conduct joint air assault

Nov 16, 2009

By Sgt. Travis Zielinski, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq-U.S. and Iraqi forces worked together in an air assault and patrol mission to check on the standard of living in a small village north of here, Nov. 12.

The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade has again seen its labors-training the Iraqi Air Force to fly their ground brethren in real missions-come to fruition.

U.S. Soldiers assaulted in on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters along with Iraqi Army Soldiers on IqAF UH-1 helicopters and continued on to the ground mission.

Alongside Soldiers from the 34th IA Brigade, Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, conducted a sewage, water, electrical and trash assessment, or SWEAT, in the village.

The IA was given the guidelines of the mission; to ask the locals if their houses could be searched, look for faulty plumbing or electrical issues and to check if villagers had any information on possible terrorist activities, said Staff Sgt. Marcus Espinosa.

"I would say they (IA) performed pretty well, they did their job by interacting with the local population," the Newark, Calif. native said. "We (U.S. Soldiers) really didn't have to do anything, we stepped back and let them take charge."

While one element was talking with the villagers, another was searching the surrounding area for weapons caches, said Espinosa, adding that the village had previous ties with al-Qaeda.

All the while, an attack weapons team comprised of two U.S. AH-64D Apache attack helicopters from the provided overhead support and an extra set of eyes for the joint patrol.

Taking part in the SWEAT assessment, Spc. Christopher Shiller, of Arlington, Texas, said he was pleased to see that the IA had confidence in their abilities to conduct the mission.

"The IA didn't hesitate walking up to the people in the village, letting them know what we were there to do; that we weren't there to harm them in any way and to see if we could help out in any way," said Shiller. "It was kind of a way to go out and show that the training has paid off."

With every mission the IA improves on the ability to work seamlessly with the IqAF.

"I think the mission was a success, with what I saw the Iraqis conducted themselves very well," said Espinosa. "I think with a little more training they should be able to take the reins."

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