to Mission Success in Iraq
Special to AFPS
BAGHDAD — The
view from the sky indicates the tide in Iraq may be turning. Soldiers
of 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, made the move from
Camp Taji to Camp Stryker at the Baghdad International Airport
about a month ago. Army Maj. Parker Frawley, the unit’s operations
officer, said the squadron already is seeing the difference U.S.
forces are making across Iraq.
AH-64D Apache takes off from Camp Taji, Iraq. Pilots with
4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, have enjoyed
a less intense and less kinetic mission since arriving at
Baghdad International Airport.
In Camp Taji,
4-3rd ACR was involved in an intense battle for Sadr City.
The soldiers fought daily, to defeat Iranian-backed “special
groups” in Baghdad’s Sadr City district and to
eliminate the indirect-fire threat to Baghdad.
during that time frame, the fight in Sadr City was a very kinetic
fight,” Frawley said.
moved to Camp Striker and Multinational Division Center, where
its AH-64D Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk pilots are experiencing
a different pace. In its new home, the squadron is part of
Task Force 49, Multinational Division Center Combat Aviation
threats from roadside bombs and direct and indirect fire are
fewer in Multinational Division Center than what the squadron
experienced in Sadr City. The aircraft that once fought constantly
in a small geographic region now are responsible for a much
larger area; they support ground forces by providing surveillance
the threat of these areas being lower and the ground guys focusing
more on nonlethal operations, we, of course, conduct fewer
lethal operations as well,” he said. “If you look
at the big picture, the less we have to shoot and destroy targets
or kill insurgents indicates that we are getting closer to
mission success in Iraq.”
the changing operational tempo in Multinational Division Center
also has allowed the squadron to catch up on maintenance and
give the pilots a break.
changing nature of our attack and reconnaissance missions reflects
a greater level of security among the people, a demonstrated
capability of the Iraqi police and army, and a general improvement
in the daily lives of the population,” Army Col. Chandler
C. Sherrell, Task Force 49 commander, said. “This would
not be possible without the continued efforts of our ground
partners to transition security to the Iraqis and aid in the
economic development of their areas. These positive trends
have allowed us to provide a greater degree of overwatch and
a reduced level of direct action.”
in focus for 4-3rd ACR was recently highlighted by its involvement
in the Aug. 16 celebration of the Birth of the 12th Imam, an
important Muslim holiday that draws hundreds of thousands of
Shiia pilgrims to Karbala each year. In previous years, daily
reconnaissance patrols were necessary to provide surveillance
of the crowds and early warning of any potential threats to
the Iraqis participating in the pilgrimage. This year, the
squadron’s mission remained more of an overwatch, as
Iraqi ground and air assets led the security efforts.
of the progress of the Iraqis and their ability to handle their
own internal affairs with minimal coalition support, the decision
was made to minimize our presence around Karbala,” Frawley
said. “It bolsters the Iraqi’s confidence — not
only the Iraqi security forces’ confidence, but [also]
the confidence of the Iraqi population in the security forces’ ability
to do its job.
a success story,” he added. “Any responsibilities
we can hand over to the Iraqis that they can execute with a
degree of success, gets us closer to mission completion here.”