News: 6th Iraqi Army Division, 4-2 SBCT open new operations center
By Spc. Luisito Brooks and Sgt. Bryce Dubee
BAGHDAD — After months of planning and construction, the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division held a ribbon cutting for the recently completed Joint Operations Center on Forward Operating Base Constitution, March 15.
"This JOC will prove to be an invaluable asset in the effort to provide security to the Iraqi people," said Lt. Col. Darron Wright, deputy commanding officer of 4th Bde., 2nd Inf.
While the new facility, designed to be the central node for the sharing of information between U.S. and Iraqi forces in western Baghdad, had been in operation since before the March 7, Iraqi national elections, the ceremony represented the official opening of the operations center.
With a quick snip of a pair of gold-handled scissors, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Hashim Aouadi, commanding general of the Baghdad Operations Command, cut the ribbon on the state-of-the-art center, which brings the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the U.S. and Iraqi militaries under one roof.
These combined assets were put on display for the guests and media present at the ceremony in the form of a simulated operation which showed U.S. and Iraqi service members working in the JOC, coordinating operations with troops on the ground.
Watching aerial surveillance footage of U.S. and Iraqi troops approaching an objective, a U.S. Soldier working in the JOC communicated directly to the troops on the ground, sharing the latest intelligence with them and providing updates to other staff members in the command center.
One row ahead of him, an IA officer relayed updates to his fellow Iraqi Soldiers as they detained two men and prepared to assault a building. Upon completing his communication to the field, he too provided an update to the rest of the JOC.
The demonstration showed the close level of side-by-side coordination the facility is capable of, and its use in combining efforts on the battlefield.
For Staff Sgt. Brad Mateski, a network and systems administrator assigned to 472nd Signal Company, 4th Bde., 2nd Inf., the JOC opening represents the end of months of work and planning, as well as the start of work in a new location.
"The new facility has greatly improved network capabilities," he said, explaining that the structure not only has more space but is more secure as well, providing a complete voice and data network.
Mateski, who worked with members of 16th Engineer Brigade during the planning and construction of the JOC to advise where to run data lines and place power conduits, said the process has been fun.
"It's kind of like building your own house," he said. "You get to say, 'This goes here, and this goes here.'"
Because the old JOC was literally right next door, transitioning to the new facility was merely a matter of unplugging things, moving them, and plugging them back in, he added.
Overall, Mateski said he's looking forward to working in the new JOC and continuing his relationship with his Iraqi partners.
"They treat us like family over here," he said. "I've had a real good experience working with them."
The key to the completion of the new battlefield assets has been the partnership trail that runs straight to its front steps, he said.
"With this new JOC complete, it will symbolize the great cooperation between federal police, 6th Iraqi Army, Iraqi police and the Raider Brigade," said Lt. Hassin, an officer with 6th IA Div. "It will ensure that the communication between the both sides is good."
Pfc. Chris Bozarth, a Soldier with 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., commented that the new JOC is a big improvement from the old one.
"Try to imagine a sardine can, and that was what the old JOC was like," laughed the Bowie, Texas, native who had worked inside the old JOC since being deployed to Iraq last fall. "[Our job] is to support the IA's mission. If they need our support, we coordinate assets to whatever sector they need.
"Now there is a centralized location in which information is gathered and shared."
During his speech at the ceremony, Wright summarized the purpose of bringing everyone together under one roof. "Together, the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi police and the federal police forces will be able to ensure the security of Iraq's future more efficiently."