|SADR CITY, Iraq, Aug. 24, 2005 - U.S. and Iraqi Army soldiers now patrol Sadr City, and the result is safer streets in what was once a hotly-contested area.
After a change in their area of operations, troops from Company B, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division got to know their new neighborhood during a recent patrol.
"It's a lot of work, getting to know a new sector - we gather intel on terrorist operations, assess how receptive the locals are to our presence and develop informants," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jason Schwab, platoon leader. "We try and impress upon them that it's in their best interest to help us, because the people who kidnap and extort them are the same ones planting bombs in the roads."
During the patrol, Schwab stopped at the Al-Kanasa Police Station and spoke with a warrant officer about the neighborhood.
"The people we talk to in the neighborhood have been pretty helpful and want things to get better in Sadr," said U.S. Army Sgt. Lee Minyard. "They're starting to realize we're here to help them."
Minyard pulled security throughout the patrol, which took the dismounted infantrymen through the streets and alleys of Sadr.
|"They"re building relationships with the local Iraqi Police, which is crucial to operating effectively in Sadr."
U.S. Army Capt. Zan Hornbuckle
"We tell people that it's up to them to make a difference in their communities," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Brisley, a section leader. "They're so used to relying on one leader to make all the decisions, but they're gradually taking the initiative."
Along Sadr's dusty streets, Brisley remarked that the streets had rivers of sewage running through them six months ago.
"People see the improvements, and it makes them happier to see us (now) than they were when we (first) arrived in Iraq," said Brisley.
Soldiers stopped at a high school to assess its condition and to see if terrorists were storing weapons inside. Finding the school clear, Schwab spoke to the principal about terrorist groups in the area.
"Building a rapport with influential people here is the best thing we can do right now," Schwab said. "Intelligence from the locals is the most effective means of deterring terrorist activity in (our) sector."
White both U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces plan and conduct missions in Sadr City, a quick reaction force is always standing by to aid either unit if they need additional firepower. Soldiers from Company C, 3-15 Inf., staff the QRF and maintain a constant state of readiness.