News: United States Division-North provides support to successful Iraqi elections
By Spc. Jessica Rohr
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER -- Task Force Marne units in United States Division-North successfully fulfilled their supporting role to the Iraqi security forces, March 7, as the citizens of Iraq went to the polls to vote for the next leaders of their country.
It is estimated that more than 1 million Iraqi citizens voted in Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah ad-Din and Diyala provinces, contributing to an extremely successful election.
Soldiers throughout the task force assisted their Iraqi counterparts by securing outer perimeters of the area to add another layer of protection for the Iraqi citizens.
In Hamadi Shahab where there were 2,350 registered voters, a team of Soldiers from the Division Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division were asked for their assistance.
The Iraqi police have been taking a lead role in joint missions such as this one.
"We are here to provide security and observe guidelines that have been put out," said Pfc. Anthony D. Ford, from the Personal Security Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, DSTB, 3rd ID. "While working hand in hand with the Iraqi police, we are helping make sure nothing out of the ordinary happens to allow for a peaceful voting process."
The security detachment made its presence known in the days leading up to the election by conducting foot patrols through the village and searching outlying areas for potential threats on Election Day.
"We go out to provide security because there are some people that might oppose the whole process of voting, oppose one candidate or another," Pfc. Ford said. "We are going to make sure that nothing gets out of hand, that we can maintain the peace, and it can be a peaceful voting process without interruptions."
On the day of the parliamentary elections, members from the Iraqi army, police and the Sons of Iraq, stood tall and proud as they worked to make potentially apprehensive voters feel secure.
"It's a partnership operation between coalition forces and Iraqi police, and Iraqi army," said Lt. Col. Ghazi Hamed Goma'a, station commander of the Al Aswar Iraqi Police Station in Al Sequor. "Our main goal is to protect the polling site; that way, we can protect the local citizens from suspicious actives."
On Election Day, the PSD checked with Ghazi on security. The station commander informed Capt. David T. Bright, the PSD commander that the village was safe with the Iraqi forces he had in place. With great confidence in the Iraqis, Bright took his team to their next area of operations: the open land surrounding the polling site.
"The coalition forces, the Sons of Iraq, and Iraqi police have been working together even before the election," Ghazi said. "We have been assisted by the coalition forces by training our IPs and the SOIs, and by their logistics support. When the citizens see us work together hand in hand, they will feel safer to come today and vote."
An optimistic and hopeful citizen of Iraq, Ghazi sees great progress.
There has been a big change between the last election and today," he stated. "Before, there used to be a lot of insurgent inside the villages. As of today, the situation is totally different. Before, a citizen hardly could make it to his work from the fear that he had, but today they are free to go everywhere they want. They can go to their work. The can come to vote."
The IP commander acknowledged his team's efforts and their progress.
"The experience of the IPs has been increasing, which goes back to a partnership between us and the coalition forces and the training they have given us," said Ghazi.
During their Election Day sweep of the surrounding polling site area, the PSD came across some unidentified explosive ordnance. A thorough observation by the Navy's Task Force Troy, Mobile Unit 12, Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, was conducted and the area was cleared.
At the end of the day, the ISF, assistance from their Task Force Marne partners, found and cleared more than 30 improvised explosive devices before they injured or killed innocent Iraqis.