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    It takes a village: warrant-based targeting for Soldiers deploying to Iraq

    It Takes a Village: Warrant-based Targeting for Soldiers Deploying to Iraq

    Photo By Sgt. Mike MacLeod | Pfc. Andrew T. Dickson of B Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Division,...... read more read more

    Low-budget war games go something like this: sergeant and private, standing among the knotty pines, tree frogs singing, humidity so high the air could support a flight of Abrams tanks.

    "Alright, private, you've found the weapons cache. What are you going to do now?"

    "I'm going to blow it up, sergeant. BANG!"

    "Private, you just blew up the man's house."

    "What house, sergeant?"

    "The one you found the weapons cache in, private!"

    Sometimes the biggest challenge of a combat scenario is simply knowing what is "game" and what is not. For Fort Bragg paratroopers learning warrant-based targeting at Fort Polk, La., Joint Readiness Training Center here, the rules of the game were dramatically clear.

    "It's as close to the real thing without actually being in-country," said Sgt. Allen T. House, weapons squad leader for 3rd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82d Airborne Division.

    These situational training exercises are very important to House. The two-time combat veteran lost one of his best friends on the streets of Baghdad during his last tour with the 82nd. He was just a "trigger puller" then; this time, as a noncommissioned officer, he will be responsible for training other soldiers, keeping them safe, and bringing them home alive.

    He is also the father of a five-month old boy named Aiden.

    "Fatherhood is a pretty awesome thing," said the easy-smiling Alabaman. "It's different this time. I am responsible for people. This will be my second deployment married, first one with kids. I'm excited to go, to train these guys today, to help them through it from what I've learned. That's what I was trained to do," he said.

    The day's exercise was B Company's first realistic training in the new role they will play soon in Iraq: providing training and backup for the Iraqi army, who will take the lead on the fledgling democracy's security. For that, JRTC's Al Mawsil village was the perfect setting.

    "It is different for us," said 1st Lt. Joshua Stuart-Shor, the leader of 3rd Platoon. "We're a high-intensity conflict unit — we're used to kicking in doors, so it's hard to step back. The men all want to be involved, but they want to see it done right. We're still raw. We're learning. That's what we're here for," he said.

    Market fish on ice, live goats in the streets, the veiled brows of old women peeking from windows. Under the Louisiana pines, there were real "Iraqi" houses to be searched as the Paratroopers of B Company assisted a role-playing company of Iraqi army troops and blue-suited Iraqi police — armed with a search warrant — to find a suspect.

    Company commander Capt. Scott N. McKay spoke through Iraqi-born interpreters Roger Algarawi and Mayi Imad as his lieutenants shifted their platoons around villagers and their homes.

    Just as the suspect was captured by Iraqi police, a bomb went off by the village jail. There were casualties, and soldiers of both armies responded as they had been trained.

    "It's good training," said Imad, who has been working with JRTC for four years. From Dohuk, Iraq, Imad recalled the thousands of fellow Kurds who were poisoned by Saddam Hussein. "U.S. troops got rid of Saddam," he said. "Life to life, I will help you."

    Cordoning a road into the village, Sgt. House ordered his men into their Humvee.

    The .50-caliber gunner, Pfc. Andrew Riggs of Dickson, Tenn., was disappointed. It was his first time behind the "ma-deuce" on an STX, and he never got to fire the big-barreled machine gun. As with many of his friends, Riggs arrived at the 82d just as 1st Brigade was returning from its last deployment to Iraq.

    "When you're the new guy, it's almost like basic training again," said Riggs, who recalled his months at infantry boot camp without the slightest nostalgia. "That's one of the reasons why I can't wait to deploy, because most of the guys have gotten to deploy."

    Driver, Pfc. Roger A. Carpenter of Turtle Lake, Wis., is in the same boat. "We've been the new guys for a long time," he said. "Most guys don't have to be the new guys for a year and a half."

    Riggs' parents were not thrilled about him joining the infantry, but if he was going to war, he wanted to fight, he said. However, due to the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement approved by the Iraqi government in late 2008, Riggs and his fellow infantrymen may be much less likely to ever be in harm's way.

    Getting warrants for arrests, searches and detentions is going to make the paratroopers' job a little bit harder, but letting the Iraqis lead will make it a little bit easier, said House. Still, his men were nervous about the agreement's other ramifications, especially as it applies to their personal liability in combat.

    "There are lots of rumors," he said.

    1st Brigade Judge Advocate Maj. Julie A. Simoni said that a major difference in that regard between now and the brigade's last deployment to Iraqi is that, for grave premeditated felonies committed off U.S. facilities in Iraq and while off duty, a U.S. Soldier may be prosecuted in Iraqi courts.

    "As long as a Soldier does the right thing, he has nothing to worry about," said Simoni.

    Like House, Stuart-Shor's primary goal is to bring all his men home alive.

    "With regard to the security agreement, I'm not nervous for the men, but I think it's going to take some adaptation for all of us," said Stuart-Shor. "As leaders, we're taught to take action, to be an aggressive fighting force. Now it's time to take a step back. We're thinking more like police officers and investigators than infantrymen."

    "There's nothing wrong with that," he added, "but it is a change. I've got to get these guys to focus on always thinking first. Don't just pull the trigger like it used to be in direct combat action."



    Date Taken: 05.05.2009
    Date Posted: 05.19.2009 18:51
    Story ID: 33828
    Location: US

    Web Views: 411
    Downloads: 243