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第2歩兵師団第3旅団、イラク派遣へ
出典 tacoma news tribune
URL http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/5723593p-5124102c.html
原題 No ‘rude awakening’ this time
筆者 MICHAEL GILBERT; The News Tribune
日時 2006年5月8日
他掲載媒体 不明
発信地 不明
内容

第2歩兵師団第3旅団、最初にストライカー旅団に改編された部隊が再度イラク派遣へ。

#以下全訳最後まで 
Enlarge image
JANET JENSEN/THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Staff Sgt. William Cutcher rides on the back of a Stryker on Friday at Fort Lewis. The first Stryker brigade’s next mission will put it back in Iraq.

Enlarge image
JANET JENSEN/THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Members of the 3rd Brigade, like these soldiers training Friday at Fort Lewis, soon will replace the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in Mosul, Iraq.

Enlarge image
JANET JENSEN/THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Clutching a machine gun, Spc. Steven Roman sits inside a Stryker on Friday while training at Fort Lewis. Some exercises simulate the finding of roadside bombs.

All the major training is done. The vehicles will be loaded onto ships later this month at the Port of Olympia, and by the end of next month, the Army’s first Stryker brigade will be on its way back to Iraq.

Nearly half the 4,000 soldiers in the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were with the unit the first time it went over in November 2003.

Their experience, and that of the two Stryker brigades that succeeded them, have informed preparations different from the last time, the Fort Lewis-based soldiers say.

“Before, we went over thinking we knew what was going on over there,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Muetz, a Stryker infantryman preparing for his second trip. “Of course, it was a rude awakening.”

Before their first deployment, the soldiers prepared mainly for the big fight: traditional force-on-force confrontations like they might have encountered if they had been part of the initial invasion.

This time they’ve focused on fresh lessons from the counterinsurgency, with a heavy emphasis on understanding the Iraqi culture.

Training also has focused more on documenting evidence against insurgents who are captured, as if soldiers were police investigators.

“This trip we’re not going in blind,” Muetz said. “All the leadership, they’re all veterans. They’ve seen what kind of folks we deal with on a regular basis, they know how to interact, how not to step on toes unintentionally, and to make sure you’re stepping on the right toes.”

Brigade to aid Iraqi security forces

Everything is subject to change, officials said, but the plan for now is that they’ll replace the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, which is headquartered in familiar territory: Mosul. It’s where the 3rd Brigade soldiers spent most of their first deployment.

The 172nd also has a large number of troops based in the far west, in Rawah, along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border.

Maj. Adam Rocke, the 3rd Brigade’s operations officer, said the mission and locations are likely to evolve as U.S. forces hand over day-to-day responsibilities in parts of the country to Iraqi troops.

The brigade will continue to help develop Iraqi security forces “to an adequate level so that they are the lead and we, the coalition forces, are in a supporting role,” Rocke said.

But he said it’s likely U.S. commanders will continue using Stryker troops as a rapid-reaction force.

He said each of the three Stryker brigades to work in Iraq has proved its ability to rapidly move large numbers of infantrymen over great distances. Strykers will be a force commanders will call on even if they begin to reduce the number of troops in Iraq.

“I believe one of the last units out of Iraq will be a Stryker brigade,” Rocke said.

Bonding with the new guys

Officers say one of the brigade’s greatest strengths – its continuity – also is a source of concern.

“I think my greatest fear with this force is that the bond that those guys have, the veterans, is nurtured, while not shutting out the new guys,” said Lt. Col. Barry Huggins, who commands one of 3rd Brigade’s three infantry battalions, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment. “We’ve got to integrate them, make them part of the team.”

Muetz, a 32-year-old staff sergeant who heads up a squad of mortarmen, said he and other veteran noncommisioned officers make sure their young soldiers are listening when it’s war story time. But they also stress that conditions in Iraq change all the time.

“It’s not a vacation. It’s not just pay. You’ve got to get over there and watch your butt.”

Simulating Iraq’s dangers

Capt. Brent Clemmer, a company commander in the 2-3, recently ran his troops through a final few days of training at the Leschi Town urban combat center. He said he set up “the whole smorgasbord of a day in the life of Iraq: from making nice with the mukhtar to meeting with the mayor, and everything in between.”

Clemmer parachuted into Afghanistan with the Rangers in 2001 before joining the 3rd Brigade for the previous Iraq deployment. Soldiers back then were all keyed up, with visions of the “Black Hawk Down” gun battle in mind, when they crossed the berm from Kuwait into Iraq.

This time, “You’re scared still, yeah, but we know what to expect.”

At Leschi Town, he watched one of his platoon leaders direct his men through the discovery of a mock roadside bomb, an improvised explosive device, or IED.

Some Iraqi soldiers – or, rather, brigade troops playing that role – brought the information to the platoon leader, Lt. Chris Alexander. It was just down the road, maybe 70 yards away, in a pile of cinder blocks at the corner of a wall.

For a time, the only thing between the platoon leader and the bomb was a chain-link fence.

Over the next several minutes, Alexander and his platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Martin, positioned their soldiers to keep people out of the way. They questioned some of the neighborhood men hanging around, who knew nothing, of course.

The leaders feared the bomber might be watching and waiting to detonate when enough soldiers or civilians got into the kill zone.

Alexander eventually moved his men back about 150 yards from the bomb; 300 is preferred, but that’s not always possible in an urban area. At least they had the cover of their 20-ton Stryker.

Afterward, Clemmer told Anderson and Martin they did well, but he reminded them to make sure they investigate IEDs “behind something thicker than the body armor you’re wearing.”

Later the platoon was sent out to find an insurgent mortar team during a traffic stop, then do it again. In the second exercise, commanders planned ambushes based on the platoon’s behavior the first time. The insurgents are always watching, Huggins stressed.

‘America still produces heroes’

Alexander, 26, was in his senior year at the North Carolina State University ROTC program in 2004 when many of the men in his platoon were fighting in Iraq.

Leading a platoon – 40 or so soldiers – is an entry-level role for new officers. They’re always paired with an experienced group of noncommissioned officers to coach them along.

“I was kind of nervous coming in, that all the soldiers were combat veterans,” Alexander said. “But I feel like I’ve been integrated in pretty well. … I feel like they’ve accepted me like I’ve been with them the whole time.”

Something else that’s different this time is the political climate at home. There’s more debate about the war. By late summer, Iraq likely will be a leading issue in the congressional election campaigns.

Soldiers said they’re watching it with interest, as citizens, but they’ll put it out of mind when it comes to their jobs.

“I tell these guys every night … how proud I am that America still produces heroes, is still able to assemble a force of young men like them from all walks of life, all backgrounds,” Huggins said.

“These guys really are a part of something that’s pretty special. I urge them … to hold onto that.”
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