News: Tip of the spear BRF Soldiers stand ready for any challenge
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Day or night, when a security threat is reported on Contingency Operating Base Speicher, the Base Reaction Force responds.
The BRF soldiers, assigned to Company D, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, remain on call 24 hours-a-day as one of the first responders to any possible attack on the service members and civilians deployed to COB Speicher.
When it comes to base security, the BRF soldiers must maintain a proactive posture to deter possible insurgent activity, said Sgt. Christopher Salgado, an infantryman assigned to the BRF.
“We conduct routine perimeter checks to inspect the perimeter fences ensure the base’s defenses remain secure and … be a deterrent for anyone out there thinking about encroaching on our defenses,” said Salgado, who hails from Kaysville, Utah. “There are people in Iraq watching us, but the more often they see us out there maintaining our security, the less likely they are to attack us.”
After dozens of operations on and around COB Speicher, keeping current on the latest media reports and intelligence keeps the BRF soldiers focused on their mission, said Salgado.
“I keep up on all the news and reports we are getting from the entry control point and other posts. Just knowing that a threat is out there keeps us sharp,” he said. “Add to that the fact that we have all been on prior deployments, and it is hard to lose that focus when you have been in combat situations. Even during long periods of [inactivity] we always have that feeling that something could always happen.”
Spc. Erick Downs, an all-wheel mechanic who serves primarily as the driver of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle for the BRF, said while his mission remains vitally important as a safety measure and a deterrent, he is grateful for the relative peace he has experienced during his deployment.
“I’m a mechanic, but this is my third deployment operating as an infantry soldier,” said Downs, a native of Niagara, N.Y. “This is a really big change of pace for me because we aren’t constantly in combat operations, and I think that says a lot about what our guys have done on previous deployments.”
When most U.S. Division – North soldiers finish work for the day, they retire to a containerized housing unit to relax and rest away from the stresses of the office or coworkers for at least a few hours before returning to work the next morning. Always on call, BRF soldiers live and work out of the Company D headquarters building.
“There are times when we get on each other’s nerves, but with everyone working together and living in such proximity we have gained a lot of trust between each other,” said Sgt. Shawn Michael Campbell, a combat medic with Company D. “That just how it has to be – that’s our mission. We have become like a small family.”
After three deployments, meshing into a cohesive team to accomplish a mission becomes second nature, said Campbell, who hails from Chrystal River, Fla.
“This is why I am here,” he said. “I’m a combat medic – I provide medical attention in the field. I don’t have a problem being away from home, because I have a team here and I am doing what I signed on to do.”
Salgado said he and his team do more than just ensure the personal security of the soldiers and civilians living and working on COB Speicher.
“The mission we do out here, being a deterrent for possible attackers, helps everyone on COB Speicher sleep in peace,” said Salgado. “We facilitate a safe, secure environment that allows everyone else to complete their parts of Operation New Dawn.”