By Sgt. Kandi Huggins
1st Advise and Assist Task Force
1st Infantry Division, U.S. Division-North
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq - After 14 years of service and three deployments serving as an infantryman and cavalry scout, Sgt. Reginald Alexander is in Iraq for a second time. This time he’s keeping troops informed in support of Operation New Dawn.
During his first deployment to Iraq from 2004-2005, Alexander’s unit was tasked to conduct combat patrols in Baghdad, he said. Now, Alexander has a different mission: Company Intelligence Support Team non-commissioned officer in charge, Company G, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery.
“Before it was more hands-on, and I was more exposed to the Iraqi population,” said the Magnolia, Ark., native. “We were responsible for keeping the district free of violent extremist groups … and provided security for the first democratic elections in Iraq.”
Alexander said he spent 11 years in the National Guard as a scout and infantryman, but decided to go active duty for stability, and to encounter new challenges.
Now, with little contact with Iraqis, Alexander works with soldiers and interpreters to provide intelligence reports before they leave Contingency Operating Site Warrior for missions and engagements.
“As the COIST NCOIC, I follow attack trends, map the safest routes and plan alternate routes based on the current threat levels our (intelligence) has noted,” said Alexander. “My job is pertinent because it gives the soldiers situational awareness of threat levels, enemy tactics, techniques and procedures, and an idea of what they need to look for when they are out in sector.”
“He is definitely an asset,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Harleston, operations NCOIC, Company G. “Operations would be hurt without him. He sets up everything before the guys roll out. All they have to do is get in their vehicles and accomplish their mission.”
Harleston, a Charleston, S.C., native, said since knowing and working with Alexander the past two years, his professional respect for him continues to increase.
“He works hard,” said Harleston. “He is sometimes hard on his soldiers, but he always leads by example.
“He is never the type of leader to just dictate and tell his soldiers to do this or do that. He goes out there with his soldiers and helps them, or learns what their job is to understand how it better helps him be more of an asset to their growth and development.”
While Alexander spends most of his time at COS Warrior, Harleston said he goes out on missions from time to time, which aids his understanding of what his briefings can do for the unit before they go on missions.
“It’s a good thing for him to go out because he is better able to visualize the terrain and area,” said Harleston. “An area may look one way on a map, but when you see it firsthand it’s different. With him going out on missions, he is able to … determine different things that will allow our operations to run effectively and efficiently.”
Alexander said, even though it is a new experience and challenge, his time as COIST NCOIC has been rewarding because no personnel have been casualties of enemy action while he has been doing his job.
He said he is grateful his experiences and prior deployments allow him to provide leadership and expertise to his fellow soldiers and he looks forward to taking that experience with him as he progresses his career in the Army.