War on Terrorism

Monday, March 30, 2009

U.S., Iraqi Soldiers Protect Eastern Baghdad Highway

By Army Staff Sgt. Alex Licea
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 30, 2009 - Traffic is common in a city of 7 million people. With the lingering threat of roadside bombs at any turn, U.S. paratroopers here work daily with their Iraqi counterparts to ensure the people of Baghdad are safe on the highway. Walking alongside a busy road here is no easy task. Coalition forces and their Iraqi partners have to contend with the dangers of improvised explosive devices and speeding motorists on the roadway. But despite the dangers of this foot patrol, it's a mission that Multinational Division Baghdad paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, take very seriously.

"This is one of the main roads into Baghdad, and if it is not clear, then people will be scared to drive on it and it can affect commerce, daily life and security as a whole," Army 1st Lt. Logan Cole, platoon leader for Company C, said.

Cole and his fellow soldiers patrol with Iraqi soldiers assigned to the 11th Iraqi Army Division's 3rd Battalion, 44th Iraqi Army Brigade. Cole said the frequent patrols have given his soldiers a good perspective of the roadway and help them identify anything new or suspicious on the road.

"The good thing about doing this every day is that we get to know what the terrain looks like and familiarize ourselves with the area," said the native of Fort Knox, Ky. "When we see something new in the area, we can recognize it right away and look into it."

Iraqi army officials have credited the combined efforts in keeping this once violent stretch of highway safe.

"Because of these patrols, this area is safe and secure," said Iraqi Maj. Abd Alrhamen Jaber said. "These efforts have helped reduce the threat of IEDs, and attacks have gone down significantly in this area."

Army Sgt. Robert Durst of Douglasville, Ga., said the efforts of his unit and their Iraqi partners have led to lasting peace and safety in this region of eastern Baghdad.

"This is a very busy and important road, and we save a lot of lives, because we patrol this area every day looking for anything that can endanger the area and the people," he said.

(Army Staff Sgt. Alex Licea serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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