News: Constant vigilance every soldier does their part
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – When a soldier deploys, their routine changes greatly. As they make the transition from life in the U.S. to life in Iraq or Afghanistan, soldiers learn a whole new set of rules and restrictions.
Soldiers of U.S. Division – North, deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn, are required to travel in groups and are told to maintain situational awareness, paying close attention to detail, both on and off U.S. installations.
These rules are put in place to keep soldiers safe and guard against hostile activity, said Sgt. Maj. Jerry Eddin, 4th Infantry Division and U.S. Division – North senior enlisted advisor for force protection.
“Every soldier is responsible for force protection,” said Eddin, who hails from Houston. “It doesn’t matter where you are this deployment, on the base all day or outside the wire, you are still in Iraq and your attention to detail could save a soldier’s life.”
Eddin said there is no more valuable tool to prevent a security breach than the soldier, watchful and aware of his or her surroundings.
Soldiers tasked with the specific mission of protecting the service members and civilians deployed to bases throughout northern Iraq do an outstanding job of mitigating potential threats, said Master Sgt. James Meneley, vulnerability assessment NCOIC, 4th Inf. Div. and U.S. Division – North.
“We have improved our base security measures greatly over the past eight years or so,” said Meneley, who calls Colorado Springs, Colo., home. “We have a great defense team, but that being said, our Soldiers should still sweat the little stuff.”
The fight against complacency starts with good leaders who pass on their experience and knowledge to their junior soldiers, said Eddin.
“NCOs need to make sure their soldiers are doing the right thing,” he said. “They need to make sure their soldiers are squared away, always traveling in battle buddy teams, and always have their personal protective items. They should make sure their soldiers are up to date on all of their battle drills, tactics and procedures so they know how to handle any situation. ”
While vitally important, maintaining personal force protection measures does not need to be difficult, said Maj. Robert West, deputy force protection chief, 4th Inf. Div. and U.S. Division – North.
“The bottom line is that we are in a war zone and we need to keep each other safe,” said West. “Most force protection measures are not complicated. Simple things like having a battle buddy make a world of difference when it comes to keeping our soldiers safe. Just remember that you are not at home, you are in Iraq, and stay in tune with the events going on around us.”
Eddin said he wants soldiers to treat force protection measures as a part of their military routine.
“Don’t give force protection a day off,” said Eddin. “Treat it like physical training. You always have to push yourself, you can always get better and that could mean the difference between soldiers living and dying.”