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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Armor Unit Helps Secure the Vote

Baghdad, Iraq -
- Tanks and armored personnel carriers of the Iraqi Army's 1st Brigade, 1st Mechanized Division, rumbled through the streets of central Baghdad Saturday as they moved in to take up defensive positions around the city in support of the country's historic Jan. 30 elections.

Activated late last year, this brigade is the first armor unit formed in the newly reconstituted Iraqi army.

"The unit has been training since November," said United States Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Flynn, the senior military adviser to the brigade. "It became combat operational in January while serving with 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment."

During that time the unit was used to help in palm grove clearing and traffic control operations in the 2-7 Cavalry sector.

Being the only armor unit in the Iraqi Army the Soldiers have been training specifically for their role in the elections, Flynn said.

"They understand the importance of it," he added. "They know that this is the first real test they're taking for the independence of their country."

As part of their training, the brigade performed numerous gunnery exercises at Butler ranger in eastern Iraq

"The gunners were very accurate to about 1,800 meters," Flynn said.

The vehicles used by the brigade are Soviet built T-55 tanks and armored personnel carriers that came from a unit of the old Iraqi Army that served on the border with Iran.

"The vehicles sat up on the Iranian border for a couple of years," Flynn said. "They were then refurbished by a civilian contractor and given back to the Iraqi Army."

According to Flynn all the vehicles are currently fully functional and carry a full combat load of ammunition. (By Sgt. John Queen, 3rd BCT Public Affairs)
Release #050130c

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