Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div.
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — In the town of Yusufiyah, Iraq stores are starting to open again and people are coming out of their homes. The locals are no longer scared.
Soldiers from the quick-reaction-force platoon, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), have been patrolling the streets of Yusufiyah for the past six weeks in order to reduce the amount of terrorist activity in the area.
“We conduct patrols and recons to disrupt enemy activity in the area,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Burk, a native of Lafayette, N.Y., who serves as the 4-31 QRF platoon sergeant. “We knew there were signs of terrorist activity in the area from the graffiti on the walls and information the locals gave us.”
The QRF Soldiers have a good relationship with the locals in the area. Each time they patrol the area they ask the locals how they are doing and what they (the QRF Soldiers) can do to help. They QRF Soldiers know all the families in the area and are often greeted with a smile when they stop to talk to the family members.
“When we talk to the families it makes me feel good that they are able to share the problems they are having within the town,” Burk said.
Although the families feel comfortable when the Soldiers are in the area some of them still receive death threats from the terrorists. The QRF Soldiers make it a habit to check on each of these and other families when they are in the area.
“It is good to see that we are doing something positive (for the local nationals),” said Pfc. Timothy Grom, a 4-31 QRF gunner from Clarksville, Tenn. “Since we have been here we can see that out efforts (to help the locals) have not been a waste.”
Part of the QRF’s mission while patrolling the area is to look for any suspicious activity and check the locals’ identification cards.
One local shares his thoughts about the QRF Soldiers.
“I am happy to see them (the Soldiers) here,” said Mahamad, an Iraqi local national. “They are helping to make the town a safer place and keep the bad guys out.”
Since the QRF has been patrolling the area of Yusufiyah there has been less terrorist activity and the locals seem like they feel safer.
\ “This means we are doing our job,” Burk said.
The QRF Soldiers continually go into the Yusufiyah. Sometimes they get tips from the locals that there are terrorist in the area and when they receive the tips they respond in less than 15 minutes. They area always ready to conduct the mission.
“We stay ready,” said 1st Lt. Alan Vargo, the 4-31 QRF platoon leader and native of Georgetown, Texas. “That’s what we do.”