News: Straight Arrow hands battle space to Vanguard
Story by Sgt. Dustin Roberts
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – In a transfer of authority ceremony, the 1st Combined Arms "Vanguard" Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad replaced the 4th "Straight Arrow" Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regt., attached to the 2nd HBCT at Forward Operating Base Prosperity, March 4.
The ceremony marked the end of a more than one-year tour for the Soldiers of the Straight Arrow Battalion, who worked with Iraqi security forces in the Karkh and Mansour Districts of northwest Baghdad securing the population.
When coalition forces and the government of Iraq signed the most recent Status of Forces Agreement in January, they agreed to remove U.S. troops from the city and onto control bases operated by coalition forces.
The transfer was conducted in accordance with the agreement because instead of being replaced by a unit deploying from the U.S. to provide support to the same area, the hand-off was carried out with the Vanguard Battalion, which has been in country since October 2008 and will continue to also assist the ISF in providing security for the population of the Khadamiyah, Hurriyah, and Shulla districts.
The Vanguards have moved components to cover down in Karkh in order to work joint operations with the ISF there.
The Vanguard troops work hand-in-hand with their ISF counterparts in the northern most portions of Baghdad in much the same way as the Straight Arrow Soldiers did in Karkh and Mansour.
"The Straight Arrow Soldiers made a difference by helping secure 1.7 million Iraqi people through a distinct and clear partnership with Iraqi security forces and all those who serve the Iraqi people here," said Col. Joseph Martin, a native of Dearborn, Mich., commander, 2nd HBCT. "We celebrate yet another grand chapter in the history of the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment for their service to the people of Iraq, the community in Karkh and service to our nation."
The battalion helped capture over 45 known insurgents, confiscated about 450 weapons and conducted over 5,000 patrols during the deployment, which helped keep violence in their area of operations to a minimum.
To help the ISF take the lead in the security mission, the Straight Arrows held "train the trainer" programs, which trained the ISF in basic patrol tactics, first aid, police work and Soldiering skills.
The ISF then took the knowledge they learned and brought it to their units to train their comrades.
"You deployed away from your families and friends to serve a cause that is larger than yourselves," Kirby said to the Straight Arrow Soldiers. "You never quit and you never failed. Despite the efforts of a cunning and deadly enemy, you worked with our partners to bring security to the area."
The Straight Arrow Battalion not only helped with security and stability for the Iraqi people by working with the ISF, but also assisted district and neighborhood advisor councils with improving the local infrastructure through a series of projects.
Among the projects were 150 micro-grants to stimulate small businesses in the local economy and over $4 million to help improve schools, hospitals, sewage removal, electricity, and provide road and security improvements for the people in the area.
They also helped provide oversight to the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program through generator and heavy equipment training, which is geared towards helping the GOI-backed Sons of Iraq and recently released detainees with learning a skill.
In a variety of humanitarian missions, Kirby considered their deployment a success and said he was confident that the elements of the Vanguard Battalion and ISF in Karkh will continue the momentum of progress.
"It has truly been an honor to serve side by side with our partners in the Iraqi army and Iraq police, said Kirby. "I admire their courage and their devotion to serve their country and their determination to create a better future for their fellow citizens."