News: ‘Black Knight’ Battery assists in closing Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq
By 2nd Lt. Jonathan Woislaw
2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Division
BAGHDAD — Soldiers with Battery A “Black Knights,” 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center helped to facilitate the successful transfer of Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, their home during their current deployment, to full Iraqi Government control, Aug. 29.
As part of a battalion-wide effort, artillerymen with Battery A’s 2nd Platoon conducted multiple joint force protection patrols and assisted with property removal during the base’s last few days, and even hours, of United States Forces – Iraq control. All the work culminated in the timely and safe relocation of the First Lightning Battalion into other operating locations within USD-C.
“I’m very proud of the way our soldiers responded to the challenge of maintaining a full schedule of combat force protection patrols, while also being able to focus on the extra tasks necessary to sign over the JSS [to Iraqi control],” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Becker, a platoon sergeant, Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Lancaster, Ohio, native.
These extra duties included hours of loading excess equipment and property onto convoys leaving JSS Loyalty, as well as providing security for and supervising contracted workers conducting vital closeout tasks.
The transfer of authority at JSS Loyalty was a significant milestone in a year-long deployment for the soldiers of Battery A and the First Lightning Battalion as a whole.
“We accomplished a lot at JSS Loyalty—partnering with the 1st [Iraqi] Federal Police [Division] and helping to keep security in our area had real results that we could see day-to-day,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Tressider, a section chief with Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Hampton, Va., native. “The battery was ready to move on to another important mission.”
Throughout the entire deployment, the artillerymen of the ‘First Lightning’ Battalion have taken on the role of a maneuver force. While the formation has not been fulfilling its traditional mission of providing timely and accurate artillery fire against enemy targets, soldiers have adapted and adjusted to their current mission.
“Good training and solid leadership made the transition to a maneuver, infantry-style mission much smoother than would otherwise be expected,” said Becker.
The closure of JSS Loyalty is seen by some as a move in the right direction on the way home after a year-long effort supporting the Iraqi Security Forces.
“Finishing the mission at JSS Loyalty was a proud moment for me, as a commander, as we are one step closer to the completion of a successful deployment for the battery and the battalion,” said Capt. Brian Cotter, commander of Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Providence, R.I., native. “We closed that chapter of the deployment and opened another.”
Since the outflow of personnel from JSS Loyalty began weeks before the final closure, many of Battery A’s soldiers and leaders enjoyed reuniting with comrades that they had not seen in some time.
“I’m glad we have the entire battery together again,” said Sgt. Richard McNulty, a section chief with 2nd Platoon, Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Philadelphia native, observed. “Now we can move forward together.”