News: ‘Outlaws’ keep peace in Kirkuk
Story by Spc. Crystal Hudson
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq - Every day, soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, provide patrols in the area surrounding Contingency Operating Site Warrior, Iraq.
During these counter improvised rocket assisted munitions missions, “Outlaw” soldiers spend 12 hours a day roaming the streets of Kirkuk City, gathering information about possible threats and providing a visible presence in an effort to deter violence against U.S. forces and the people of Kirkuk province.
“This is not like any other deployment,” said 1st Lt. Dustin Vincent, platoon leader with 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt., and Dallas native, explaining that many of his noncommissioned officers spent previous deployments during Operation Iraqi Freedom actively pursuing insurgent activity, and needed to adjust focus for the U.S. mission in support of Operation New Dawn.
Every day, soldiers of “Outlaw” platoon patrol, investigate suspicious activity, document changes and interview civilians.
“Our mission is to deter IRAM attacks by our presence,” said Cpl. Cory Bell, artilleryman with 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt., and Amarillo, Texas native.
Bell added that there are challenges to having such a repetitive mission. Knowing the impact of their job keeps the platoon focused, he said.
The soldiers work hard to balance their mission requirements, but often have little or no time to get haircuts, turn in laundry or eat at the dining facility due to the long hours, Vincent said.
When not actively patrolling the streets of Kirkuk, the soldiers of 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt., set up observation posts overlooking the city, Vincent said.
The soldiers have an intimate knowledge of the areas they patrol; a new hole in the ground or change in the landscape is easily noticed as a potential IED because of all the time they’ve spent in this environment, he added.
Just outside the gate, the artillerymen spotted suspicious holes on the side of the road while on patrol Aug. 26. The platoon dismounted in order to talk to people digging the holes and discerned that they were contracted to put signs up on the side of the road.
Since the Outlaws took over the IRAM mission in July, there have been no rocket attacks in their patrol area, according to Vincent, who concluded, “The fear of getting caught stops a lot of people from acting.”