By 2nd Lt. Liz Lopez
Nestled half inside and half outside the “wire” of the Victory Base Complex, the Civil Military Operations Center is a safe haven for the Iraqi people to come to gain information about someone who was detained, to settle claims against the military, or to receive free medical treatment from Iraqi medical personnel.
A short distance away, the Area Defense Operations Center, for Camp Striker is run by the Force Protection Platoon from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y. These Soldiers are responsible for safeguarding the installation’s inhabitants while they conduct operations.
Despite the relative distance between the CMOC from Camp Striker, the force protection platoon and the CMOC compound are unquestionably tied together. Ever since they arrived in Iraq a year ago, members of the platoon have been rotating through in order to provide security for the compound and its daily visitors.
The Soldiers love the opportunity to interact with the local population. Considering the majority of their other missions do not require them to leave Striker, it is a great change of pace from typical operations.
“CMOC is their favorite,” said 2nd Lt. Anton Frishberg, a native of the Bronx, N.Y., who serves as the force protection platoon leader.
The platoon may have fun working at the CMOC, but that does not mean that the mission less demanding or shorter than their other duties. In fact, the operation requires them to use infantry tactics not typically seen in a support battalion, whose primary missions keep them more in trucks than on foot.
Among their other duties, the force protection Soldiers are responsible for controlling the entry and exit of personnel into the CMOC. Although it is not physically demanding, ushering the local nationals onto the compound is still the most difficult task the platoon faces.
In spite of its admirable mission to assist the Iraqi people, the CMOC has its limitations. Although the platoon does their best, they can usually accommodate fewer than 100 Iraqis on a typical day.
“It is a helpless feeling,” said Frishberg. “These people look to you for help, but you can only help so many.”
Nevertheless, the CMOC operations are truly a success. Every day, the people come back. They have learned patience for the Americans who are giving them aid. Every Iraqi assisted at the compound builds trust between the military and the local national population. The 210th BSB force protection platoon is a big part of that.
The Soldiers enjoy their work with the Iraqi population. They hope this small gesture will contribute to the Army’s overall goal of returning such capabilities to the Iraqi people, but they understand mission success may still be a long way off.
Until then, the force protection Soldiers will continue to attend the CMOC everyday, and do their part to build bonds between nations.
Friday, September 07, 2007
By 2nd Lt. Liz Lopez