By Spc. Elvyn Nieves, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 24, 2008 - Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers here witnessed the changes and progress in the area and its bustling market during a joint dismounted patrol with the Iraqi army on Chem Street. The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers of 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, attached to the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, along with Iraqi army soldiers of 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division, and members of the "Sons of Iraq" citizens security group have been working hand in hand to provide Adhamiyah residents with enough security for them to feel safe walking the streets.
The U.S. soldiers are working with their Iraqi counterparts and putting them in the lead so the people can see their country's army "is out there to help security as much as we are," said Army Capt. Erik Kjonnerod, commander of Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment.
"We wanted to show them their Iraqi security forces are out there as much we are. They're not sitting on checkpoints doing nothing. They go out on patrols, just like the Americans do," he said.
Security in the area has led to the awakening of the market on Chem Street.
"When we first got here, we could see an average of 15 to 20 shops open," said Army Staff Sgt. Germaine Seabrook, a cavalry scout in Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment. "With the help of Iraqi forces, we helped keep the security tight. Most of the Iraqi people started coming back, opening up shops, and the economy started rolling better. The people from Adhamiyah can see how safe it is now."
The joint dismounted patrols allow soldiers to talk to people and assure them they are there for security and that they do care about their concerns.
"In the beginning of our work here, the streets were pretty much desolated," said Army 1st Lt. Matthew Jensen, a platoon leader in Troop A. "We didn't see many people walking around. People were scared to get out of their homes. Through civil affairs, micro-grants, the Sons of Iraq and our presence, people started coming out. Most of the stores on Chem Street are opened now."
(Army Spc. Elvyn Nieves serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)