By Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin Hann
Special to American Forces Press Service
Nov. 6, 2009 - Iraqi army engineers put their training to good use Oct. 18 on a reconnaissance mission to evaluate a local bridge. Engineers from the 10th Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiment Detachment joined their trainers from Company E, 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, on a type of mission that's equally important to U.S. forces and the Iraqi people.
"This is the only bridge for miles," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Carl Rogers, a combat engineer from Boston. "If it has deteriorated to an extent that no one can use it, both [civilian and military] movement will be hindered."
Army Staff Sgt. Fabio Herrera, a combat engineer from Hawthorne, Calif., said it was easy for him to get the Iraqi soldiers involved in the mission.
"On my last deployment to Iraq, I was able to learn a lot of Arabic," he said. "This gives me the ability to talk to and help guide the Iraqi soldiers without the use of an interpreter."
The Iraqi soldiers helped with taking measurements and pointing out weak spots on the bridge, and aided in traffic control. Iraqi civilians find it easier communicating with an Iraqi soldier than trying to communicate with U.S forces through an interpreter, explained Army Sgt. Michael Cohoon, an engineer from Rockville, Md.
"The Iraqi soldiers are very good at giving instructions to the civilians, and at the same time concentrating on the evaluation of the bridge," he said.
At the end of the mission, Army Sgt. Ryan Loseby, a combat engineer from Rutland, Vt., said the successful mission reflect the Iraqi engineers' continued progress.
"We can tell that the past training events have been effective," he said. "Each time the [Iraqi] soldiers go on missions with Eagle Company, they show more and more confidence in their ability to get the job done without our help."
(Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin Hann serves with the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)