Story and Photos by: 1st Lt. Hans Wiedel
4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armored Division
As U.S. forces and civilian contractors reposture in Iraq to meet the 2008 Security Agreement deadline, the need to provide security for logistical convoys transporting supplies is growing even more important.
Until every Soldier departs, convoys still need to travel roads in Iraq to deliver needed supplies to the residents of the bases there. It is the job of the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment ‘Regulars’ to secure the routes that logistic convoys travel to reach Al Asad Air Base.
Pre-convoy recons are conducted by the Soldiers assigned to Company B, 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., who maneuver up the planned convoy route, scanning for objects and obstacles that could create a threat. Soldiers scan the route with a sense of heightened awareness and are ready to defend themselves, the convoy, and the Iraqi people from possible danger.
“The mission is important because the convoy logistics patrol guarantees that the much needed supplies and sustenance required for Al Asad Airbase to continue operations arrive safely”, said 1st Lt. Oscar Quezada, platoon leader for 1st Platoon, Co. B, 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt. “Ensuring that the personnel on the CLP stay safe is our number one priority.”
It is important for Soldiers moving around Iraq to be aware that this is still a war zone and that threats are still very real here. At one point, the patrol noticed an area of abandoned buildings that was identified as a potential threat area and conducted a thorough search of the area, said Quezada, a San Benito, Texas native.
Building rapport with the locals is also an important aspect of security. The platoon took time to talk and interact with local citizens and Iraqi Police. The interaction has shown to be a very important aspect of the convoy security mission. Through the support the unit has gained from the local Iraqi citizens along the route, threat levels in the area have decreased exponentially.
“Going on patrols gives purpose to the platoon and makes good use of our training and skills,” Quezada said. “It lets the people of Iraq know that we are here to support them and their security forces. Knowing that kids can walk up and down the street safely gives us a sense of accomplishment.”
Witnessing the changing landscape and missions in Iraq has an effect on Soldiers as well.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Goering, who is on his third tour in Iraq, says he has definitely seen the change in the missions here.
“When we did this kind of mission in 2005-2006, things were a lot different. We would have engineers and would never risk stopping for long periods [of time]. We feel safer now because there are a lot less [improvised explosive devices],” said Goering, a Kansas native.
“The threat was much greater back then,” he said. “On the routes we used to clear, we would find two to three IEDs en-route every day, and that was a good day.”