News: 'Diligent' battalion Soldiers say goodbye to Iraqi partners
Story by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell
TIKRIT, Iraq – The establishment of effective relationships between the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., and their Iraqi Security Force partners was the most critical part of their mission during their deployment to northern Iraq.
Since deploying to the Salah ad-Din province, last fall, the 'Dragon' brigade oversaw a successful parliamentary election where 73 percent of the population in the province made their voices heard by casting a vote, despite the threats of violence against them. Then, on May 25, the brigade returned its twelfth and final base to the Iraqi government.
As a way of creating final memories for the Soldiers from 701st Brigade Support Battalion and the 4th Iraqi Army, the battalion hosted a Farewell Organizational Day, May 30 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.
During the organizational day, Soldiers of the 'Diligent' battalion enjoyed friendly competition in volleyball and soccer with their Iraqi counterparts.
Specialist Barbara Vargas, a medic with Charlie Company, said that she's enjoyed the time she spent with the Iraqi soldiers and was very impressed by their eagerness to learn new things.
"During (medical evacuation training), we got to go on various missions. We did ISF training where we taught the Iraqis how to do our jobs as (medics which) was a good experience because they were all really smart and very enthusiastic about learning and improving their own country as we're about to leave," said the Gaitherburg, Md., native. "It was just good to see that they are smart people who are willing to make a change and make a difference."
Warsaw, Ind., native, 1st Lt. Bradley Staddon, the executive officer of Bravo Company, said that the experience he's had with the Iraqis was rewarding and one that he won't soon forget.
"From what I've seen, everything they do is (them wanting) to better themselves (and) their country," said Staddon about his Iraqi counterparts. "They go on missions with us, and they come to visit us … it's just like they're with us, in our Army, and it's just really phenomenal."
The day culminated with an award ceremony inside the Main Gym at COB Speicher where 701st BSB command expressed their gratitude and appreciation for their Iraqi counterparts.