by Spc. Lee Elder
KIRKUSH, Iraq (August 27, 2006) – Serving double duty as both a battle captain and an intelligence officer was a daunting task for a young officer serving with coalition forces here.
Despite the dual tasks, 1st Lt. Nyiesha Smith, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Band of Brothers, said she has enjoyed her two-month stint supporting coalition and Iraqi Army forces at this sprawling base that lies near the Iraq-Iran border. Still, it wasn't easy.
"It was hard as hell," Smith said of her time working the two positions. "You took two jobs and you have to pay proper attention to both of them."
The battle captain works a 12-hour daily shift ensuring the Tactical Command post tracks and monitors all units moving off the post. This information is recorded and updated and provided to the commander.
At the same time, Smith, 24, a Military Intelligence officer by trade, worked as the battalion's intelligence officer also called "the S2." She gathered relative information both from Soldiers in the field and upper echelon sources ensuring the commander had correct data on the situations and event present in the eastern Diyala Province.
"It's been very satisfying," Smith said. "I've been able to do different things and not just deal with intel the whole time."
Smith's versatility has impressed her fellow officers. Among them is 1st Lt. Pharoah Mathis, one of the battalion's assistant operation officers, a San Antonio, Texas, native.
"She's a good officer," Mathis said. "The S2 is one of the hardest staff positions here, and she has been able to take it on since she was second lieutenant."
Mathis, a 2003 Northwestern University graduate who finished Officer Candidate School in December that year, said Smith is able to excel at so many jobs because she never stops learning. She is always trying to gain new knowledge in the areas she handles.
"She is constantly getting better as the months go by," Mathis said.
A Las Vegas native, Smith is nearing the end of a one-year tour in Iraq with the Fort Carson, Colorado-based 4th Infantry Division, and hopes to come home in November. She is a 2000 graduate from Rancho High School who attended Tuskegee University where she first considered joining Army ROTC.
"I just found it appealing," Smith said of the prospect of becoming an Army officer. "A recruiter approached me and I bought his story."
Smith said the Army has lived up to its promise. She has enjoyed several aspects of military life.
"You get to do a lot of different things in the Army," Smith said. "No day is the same, and I liked the travel aspect of it."
After finishing college and ROTC in 2004, Smith reported to Fort Carson. Before too long, she was gearing up for duty in Iraq.
In addition to her dual roles here, she has also served with the Civil Affairs units operating out of Forward Operating Base Warhorse. She rode with the teams who access needs in the surrounding civilian communities and make recommendations for Coalition aid to these areas.
"I enjoyed planning and then following through on them," Smith said of the projects.
Smith is the only child of Karen Smith of Las Vegas. She said her family worries about her as she serves in northern Iraq.
"They keep me in their prayers," Smith said. "I try to reassure them that nothing is going to happen to me."
Smith has definite ideas about what she wants to happen to her once she returns to Colorado. She said she hopes to land a spot as a platoon leader or a company executive officer.
"I'll be happy as long as I can get that experience," Smith said.