News: New 1st AATF Commander travels his operating environment, visits with troops
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq – Col. Michael Pappal, commander, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, visited Iraqi Security Forces checkpoints on his way to becoming familiar with the operations of his new command and its operating environment, March 29.
Capt. Mark Quivers, commander, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st AATF, led Pappal though the security checkpoint where U.S. soldiers and Kirkuk policemen assigned to Kirkuk Police Emergency Response Unit search personnel and vehicles for unregistered weapons, explosives and other dangerous or illegal materials.
“In previous years my soldiers would be out doing all the work at the checkpoints without help from Iraqi Security Forces,” said Quivers. “Now the ESU is taking most of the responsibility; we are only there to provide training and lend support where it is needed.”
The soldiers of Company D spend two days at the Iraqi checkpoint then return to Contingency Operating Site Warrior for three to four days before rotating out to another checkpoint near Kirkuk City.
Accompanying the brigade commander during the circulation, Quivers explained to Pappal that U.S. soldiers rotate between checkpoints to remain sharp, varying their missions to avoid complacency.
Although soldiers of Company D working the checkpoints share cramped quarters and lack many of the amenities found at Contingency Operating Site Warrior, there are benefits to spending time away from post, said Spc. Cory Harton, combat medic, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.
“Working out here is almost like a break for us,” said Harton, who hails from Tyler, Texas. “When we are at Warrior, we can get called to do a mission any time, but out here we have set shifts.”
Harton said Company D soldiers have developed a good, working relationship with their Iraqi counterparts.
“The ESU guys are trained up and taking most of the responsibility for checks out here,” he said. “We have worked with them a lot over the last few months, and they are ready to handle business on their own.”
Pappal, who hails from Indiana, Pa., said he is encouraged by the partnership he has experienced between Company D soldiers and the Iraqi ESU.
“Delta Company is doing a great job out here,” said Pappal. “These Soldiers have fostered a great relationship with their Iraqi counterparts, and I have seen that the hard work and training they put in with the ESU has paid off.”
Pappal assumed command of “Devil” Brigade, 1st AATF, 1st Infantry Division, March 28, taking responsibility of soldiers deployed to U.S. Division-North in support of Operation New Dawn.