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Lightning Horse aircraft highlight partnership, show of force

Feb 21, 2010

By Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr., Task Force Wings Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq -- One of the most critical milestones in Iraq's future will be safe and secure elections for the people of Iraq, which are slated for March 7.

The Government of Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces and their U.S. counterparts recently took a resounding step toward that goal with a new security initiative.

The Combined Security Force, consisting of 12th Iraqi Army Soldiers, Iraqi Police, 1st Peshmerga Brigade Soldiers, and U.S. Forces from 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, attached to 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, graduated after 30 days of training.

This unified force, known as the "Golden Lions," showcased their skills, including air ground integration, during the graduation ceremony in front of senior GoI officials, Kirkuk provincial leaders, and Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commander of United States Division-North, near Contingency Operating Site Warrior, in Kirkuk, Iraq, Feb. 15.

"The significance of today's event is to show the people of Iraq, government officials, (and Iraqi and U.S. forces) the culmination of all the training that the Combined Security Force has gone through," said Capt. Paul Horton, Fire Support Officer, 1/30th Inf., 2nd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. "It is to show that they are a capable, cohesive force that can work together for national unity to provide safe and secure elections."

The demonstration showcased the CSF's ability to integrate with aviation assets as they conduct full-spectrum operations. During the CSF's validation exercise, a scout weapons team from 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Lightning Horse, conducted area security for a CSF patrol, followed by precision target acquisition.

"2-6th Cav. is our partnered unit and they work closely with us as part of this key and essential mission to (secure) the elections of Iraq," said Lt. Col. Daniel Cormier, commander, 1/30th Inf., 2nd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. "Aviation assets have been (fully) integrated into our training. Everything from scout weapons teams to cold-load training, air movement to air assault training. And we plan on using all those capabilities for this force in the future."

Additionally, fixed-wing close air support from F-16 fighter jets made an appearance, simulating an ordinance drop before UH-60L Black Hawks, from TF Lightning Horse, swept in with a CSF element to simulate an air assault during the course of the demonstration.

"The aircraft are a vital part of not just the demonstration but really the capabilities the Combined Security Force brings to the ground, whether it be OH-58D Kiowa Warriors or lift assets like Black Hawks or even fixed wing assets such as the F-16s and F-15 Strike Eagles," Capt. Horton said. "That's an asset that the Combined Security Force can call upon if their brothers-in-arms need help. For example, if they run into troubles with IEDs, small-arms fire or house-borne IEDs, they can call upon those assets and we can push them out for support during their maneuvers."

Equally as impressive as the demonstration was the crowd of spectators in attendance.

"We'll have the provincial governor, the deputy governor; you're going to see a lot of the candidates from political parties, and also the senior leadership of all the security forces in the province, to include Maj. Gen. Cucolo," said Lt. Col. Cormier, prior to the graduation and CSF training exercise.

The Soldiers and policemen of the CSF are equally excited and up to the task of providing security for the elections and beyond.

"We are very happy to work with the Combined Security Force, and we are very happy the force exists here," said Halo Omar Abdulla, a Peshmerga Soldier and platoon sergeant for the CSF. "This was almost a dream for many of us, for such a force to be here in Kirkuk. We hope to see it start working soon. It doesn't matter how hard our training is or how hard they make us train - we don't feel tired. We won't give in."

He added, "These are very, very important events to us. The most important thing is we, as Kurds, Turkomen, and Arabs and the U.S. Forces, are working together."

With this theme of teamwork and partnership, the CSF was also cognizant of the resources and capabilities the aviation assets of the Lightning Horse Squadron have brought to the fight.

"I think that aviation is a key enabler that we bring to the table, and it does a lot of things for us not only with reconnaissance and surveillance," Lt. Col. Cormier said. "(It) also helps us diffuse any situation very rapidly and decisively because we gain a significant advantage when we have aviation involved."

Captain Horton, who oversaw the execution of the graduation and demonstration agreed, adding his final thoughts.

"2-6th Cav. has done a great job supporting us with aerial (reaction) force training. They've also supported us with their Kiowa Warriors in pulling area security, area and route (reconnaissance), in support of (the CSF's) validation exercises," said Capt. Horton. "They've also supported us with photo recons for areas we sent the patrol out to, to do their validation on their graded patrols. They've been a great support. 2-6th Cav. has been (awesome)."

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