KIRKUK, Iraq - Soldiers of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, assessed the security of the main routes into Kirkuk during a combined checkpoint validation patrol conducted at CCPs throughout Kirkuk, Aug. 30. The soldiers conducted the validation checks as a force protection operation designed to monitor and verify the progress of the Combined Security Forces and Emergency Services Units.
Soldiers ensure the Iraqis are using the correct tactics, techniques and procedures at the CCPs.
The validation also verifies the Iraqi Security Forces are capable of maintaining an enduring checkpoint presence after U.S. forces withdraw from Contingency Operating Site Warrior.
“These CCPs ensure Violent Extremist Networks targeting U.S. forces and Iraqi Security Forces can’t use the main roads to smuggle illegal weapons through the city,” said Capt. Gregory Arrowsmith, chief of operations, 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt. “The protection of Kirkuk and COS Warrior hinges on the security of the … routes into the city.”
U.S. forces, partnered with other ISF elements, maintained the checkpoints earlier this year, said Gregory, a field artillery officer from Livonia, Mich. Currently, the Combined Security Force, an integrated unit of Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army and Kurdish Security Forces, man the checkpoints. An entire battery from 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt., was assigned to ensure the CCPs have what they need and report any shortfalls the ISF may have.
The transfer of authority of the CCPs to ISF control was a goal of Operation New Dawn and the advise, train, and assist mission conducted by the 1st AATF after their arrival to northern Iraq.
“We normally cycle different platoons through the CCPs at different times of day to get fresh eyes on any changes that might affect force protection,” said Gregory.
“The Iraqi security forces, comprised of the CSF and the ESU, man the CCPs 24 hours-a-day,” said 1st Lt. Dustin Vincent, a platoon leader and mission commander for Battery A. “We go out to each checkpoint … to assist their operations, monitor progress, and go over the questions on the checklist. It is also an opportunity to improve their CCP operations [and make their] force protection methods more efficient.”
The checklist is a two page list of questions and reminders that must be validated by both the U.S. officer in charge and the chief of the CCP covering areas such as ammo, current personnel and supply concerns.
“We normally spend an hour or more at each location. We have a validation process we go by with our counterparts,” said Vincent, who hails from Dallas.
The progress of the ISF has enabled U.S. soldiers to conduct considerably fewer checks over the past year, said Vincent.