Sunday, April 6, 2008

Good News from Iraq:6 Apr 2008

From MNF-I, Iraqi, Coalition Engineers Join to Rebuild Combat Outpost.

MOSUL — On Sunday March 23, Combat Outpost (COP) Inman, a new COP in West Mosul manned by the 2nd Iraqi Army (IA) Division, suffered a blow that al-Qaida in Iraq had intended to be fatal to the strategic post; a suicide-truck-bomb crashed through the gates at approximately 7 a.m., detonating in the main compound, killing 13 Iraqi Soldiers and wounding 35.

“All the damage the terrorists have caused to the people and their homes, I do not understand these men, why would they do that?,” said Nami Ibhrahim, a Soldier in the 2nd IA Division, clearly more concerned about the damage to the surrounding area than to the COP.

Despite the COP being devastated, the IA Soldiers did not abandon their post. They held it in anticipation of the help they knew would come. The help came in the form of engineers from the 2nd IA Division and the U.S. Army 232nd Engineer Company, which arrived to start reconstruction of COP Inman just five days after the bombing.

Both engineer elements completed projects in other parts of Ninewah Province and then made assessments of the damaged COP. The units gathered supplies and equipment as rapidly as possible, arriving on the scene within hours of each other.

Work commenced as soon as heavily armored front end loaders, road graders and excavators were unloaded from their trailers on the evening of March 28. IA infantry Soldiers eager to help improve security of their post also chipped in by helping to string Hesco barriers and unload supplies during the night.

In the morning, the heavy equipment took over the operation, as dismounted operations were stopped as the sun came over the horizon due to an elevated sniper threat. The front end loaders the IA brought to the project tripled the expected output for filling the newly strung Hescos.

The IA and Coalition Soldiers were completing the project in a very rapid fashion, working as one unit. If one unit, they seemed veterans, as the loaders quickly fell into a rhythm; one picking up fill material, one filling Hescos and one moving between the Hescos. If all the equipment had been the same type, it would have been an impossibility to distinguish one unit from another based on performance.

“The IA has been great…last night they were stringing Hescos (barriers) with our guys,” said 1st Lt. Nathan Foust of the 232nd Engineer Company, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. “We had their two bucket loaders…all day helping with the filling. We only had one (bucket loader) out here, so it was a huge help, it would have taken a lot longer without them.”

Lt. Foust’s compliments of the IA engineers were echoed by members of his platoon. Any engineer in any Army would be happy to have the compliments of this group. 3rd platoon has been a major part of the COP building program which is ongoing in Mosul. They have constructed seven COPs in the previous two months, in the most difficult of circumstances. The unit has experienced all the hazards that fighting terrorists has to offer, bar none.

However, the unrelenting schedule and associated dangers has not affected the morale of the platoon.

“They are doing real well, their morale has been unbelievable, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Foust proudly. “The NCOs have really been on top of it, they are great. The Soldiers are all solid, they all work very hard.”

IA and Coalition engineers, as well as IA infantry, continued to work around the clock to rebuild the COP. The Soldiers took steps to improve security, develop the defensive characteristics of the roads and to re-level the surface inside the perimeter.

“By rebuilding we are showing the people that we have the will to continue this fight, to win, that we will not abandon them,” said Ibhrahim, a Soldier in the 2nd IA Division. “We will carry the fight, wherever they make it, we will win. With all my friends in the IA, I will stay and fight, forever if we have to. I am from Diyala and he is from Baghdad, but together we are the IA.”

In a testament to both IA and Coalition resolve to complete this mission, the job which was slated to take three nights took only two. The two units parted ways, hoping not to meet again under similar circumstances, but nonetheless proud of what they had accomplished and the respect they had earned.