News: Company D soldiers provide security for Contingency Operating Base Speicher
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Hot wind gusted through the entry control point, hurling a cloud of dust into the faces of U.S. soldiers as they scanned surrounding windows and rooftops for threats.
“Just another beautiful day in Iraq,” said Spc. Eric South, after the dust cleared, a cheerful smile on his face as he manned his .50-caliber machine gun.
South and other “Reaper” soldiers of Company D, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, deployed to Salah ad Din province, Iraq, in support of Operation New Dawn, ensure the security of service members and civilians living and working at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.
The Reapers assigned to the ECP work in eight-hour shifts in temperatures that can reach well above 100 degrees during the day, searching every vehicle and all personnel entering and exiting the COB for contraband and weapons.
“We are here to protect COB Speicher from militant activity, and so far we are doing an effective job,” said South, an infantryman currently on his third deployment to Iraq. “We have to be very thorough. There have been no major issues so far this deployment, and we have been able to handle all the small ones.”
Soldiers of Company D have set the standard as an efficient and thorough ECP team, said Staff Sgt. Michael Mima, a cavalry scout assigned to Company D, who supervises ECP operations during his shift.
“We have accomplished a lot out here in the past eight or nine months,” said Mima. “No weapons or explosives have made it onto the COB. We have been able to catch a lot of contraband, and none of our soldiers have been hurt, so I think we have had a very successful mission so far.”
Reapers put vehicles and personnel entering and exiting the COB through a series of gamma-ray examinations using the Mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System, and metal detector searches, explained Mima.
“There have been a lot of improvements here,” said Mima. “For the most part, people comply with our rules. We can tell the Iraqi people want to work with us, and our success today is based off their desire to be an effective nation.”
In addition to checking for contraband, the Reapers also conduct a background check on everyone who enters the base using the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment system, which allows soldiers to discover if an individual has a history of suspicious activity.
After being searched and scanned into the HIIDE system, civilians entering the COB are given a security badge and escorted onto the base.
“Getting people into the system is really important, because we can track if someone is a wanted criminal or if they have ever been told to leave a U.S. base in the past,” said Spc. Glen Poor, a supply specialist responsible for issuing temporary badges to local civilians entering COB Speicher.
Spc. Joe Gehmie said he attributes the success of the security mission at COB Speicher to the experience and accomplishments many of the Company D soldiers gained during previous deployments.
“I don’t think I can boast about anything we have done here,” said Gehmie, who calls North Dakota home. “We are building on the foundation of what other people have already done.”