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Fort Bragg soldiers keep mission moving in Iraq, providing logistical support

Sgt. Shawn C. Becker, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, flies a Puma unmanned aerial vehicle in search of ISIS indirect fire positions near Al Tarab, Iraq, March 12, 2017.

JASON HULL/U.S. ARMY

By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: March 18, 2017

Iraqi forces are moving ever closer to where the Islamic State was born.

Troops working to liberate Mosul are now fighting the terrorist group in the oldest parts of Iraq’s second-largest city, according to reports. The fight is within view of the al Nuri mosque, where the Islamic State declared its so-called caliphate three years ago.

While fighting continues against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, U.S. troops are playing a big part in ongoing successes.

The American-led coalition to defeat ISIS, known as Operation Inherent Resolve, is providing artillery support, advice and intelligence to Iraqi forces in and around Mosul. Those efforts are led by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, known as Falcon Brigade, are dispersed across Iraq, working closely with their Iraqi army counterparts and moving closer to the embattled city as forces continue to push inward.

That’s presenting unique challenges to the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, the unit within 2nd Brigade tasked with providing logistical support to its sister units.

“Everything that’s needed for the fight is what we provide,” said Maj. Elizabeth Walsh, the battalion’s support operations officer, who is based out of Qayyarah Airfield West.

The battalion provides fuel, ammunition, food, supplies, parts, maintenance and medical support across Falcon Brigade. It must respond to immediate needs, and also forecast future needs to ensure the right equipment and supplies are with the right troops at the right time.

“That creates some challenges,” said Walsh, who explained that the battalion often works with contractors, including local national truck companies. “Any time you’re dealing with contracted support, you lose some of that control.”

But the battalion remains flexible, she said. It’s part of the job.

“You’re kind of used to it,” Walsh said. “You know the brigade will be in different locations.”

While not directly involved in the Mosul battle, Walsh said deployed soldiers are keeping a close watch on the efforts of their Iraqi partners. And they take pride in the successes.

“We’re very involved with what’s going on,” she said. “We have to understand the fight to be able to support the fight… The success wouldn’t happen without the logistics and the hard work that’s being done.”

Some parts of the battalion work directly with the Iraqi counterparts, advising them on how to best support their own units. Other parts of the battalion are involved in fielding new equipment to Iraqi forces.

The battalion has soldiers in close to 10 locations across the country, Walsh said. And on any given day, some of those soldiers are on the move, carrying food, fuel, ammunition, trucks, parts and more from one base to the next.

And it’s more than just sustaining existing bases. The unit also has been tasked with helping to set up new bases for American and Iraqi forces on relatively short notice.

The 2nd Brigade has been involved with setting up at least two bases.

Creating those new bases involves the movement of large equipment. And the battalion also must provide the needed food, water and other basic life support needs.

“We play a fairly important role in the process,” she said.

The battaliondeployed with about 1,800 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade in late December and early January. It will be deployed for nine months, but Walsh said morale was still high.

“They want to be here, and they want to contribute to the Task Force Falcon mission and overall success of Iraqi forces,” she said. “This deployment — people are here because they want to be here… They understand they're part of a bigger mission.”

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©2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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