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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraqi Army ready to take reins in Sadr City

By Spc. Ben Brody

CAMP HOPE, Iraq (Army News Service May 23, 2005) – History is being made at Camp Hope — currently home of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division — as 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division prepares to take charge of half of Sadr City in June.

Only a creaky iron gate separates the two units’ bases and 3-15 takes every opportunity to mentor the growing Iraqi unit and conduct joint operations.

“These troops will be taking over half of our sector, a large area in Sadr City,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Allen, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion mortarman. “We’re helping to fine tune their skills at this point – all of them are experienced patrolling the sector.”

Allen, of Bryan, Texas, and other leaders from HHC’s mortar platoon, conduct daily classes at the Iraqi Army Battalion compound focusing on essential Soldier skills, such as map reading and battle drills.

“The Iraqi Army Battalion guys are like sponges when we teach our classes,” Allen said. “We’ve been working closely with them for a month and a half, and in that time, they’ve improved really quickly.”

Sadr City, the northeast section of Baghdad, is the most densely populated area in Iraq, with about two million residents in an area about 10 square miles.

The sector, formerly called Saddam City, has erupted in violence several times since the liberation of Iraq in March 2003, making it critical that the IAB is up to the task, Allen said.

Inside the tactical operations center, Pfc. Travis Carney, a mortarman, acts as a battle captain, tracking every Iraqi patrol in Sadr City and keeping tabs on major incidents.

Carney and other junior Soldiers from the mortar platoon work in shifts to cover the area 24 hours a day.

“I’m here to help the IAB operate the TOC the right way, and to give them someone they can ask questions of anytime,” Carney said. “There’s a lot of violence in the city, at least two explosions or ambushes every day, but I haven’t lost a single IAB Soldier since I started. It takes hard work and patience, but they’ve come a long way.”

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