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U.S. Army Sgt. Kurt Shroeder, 22, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., patrols a bustling marketplace in the town of al Qayyarah, roughly 190 miles north of Baghdad, as shopkeepers look on. His unit, the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Bliss, Texas, was conducting what has become a commonplace but dangerous foot patrol.

U.S. Army Sgt. Kurt Shroeder, 22, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., patrols a bustling marketplace in the town of al Qayyarah, roughly 190 miles north of Baghdad, as shopkeepers look on. His unit, the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Bliss, Texas, was conducting what has become a commonplace but dangerous foot patrol. (Les Neuhaus / S&S)

U.S. Army Sgt. Kurt Shroeder, 22, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., patrols a bustling marketplace in the town of al Qayyarah, roughly 190 miles north of Baghdad, as shopkeepers look on. His unit, the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Bliss, Texas, was conducting what has become a commonplace but dangerous foot patrol.

U.S. Army Sgt. Kurt Shroeder, 22, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., patrols a bustling marketplace in the town of al Qayyarah, roughly 190 miles north of Baghdad, as shopkeepers look on. His unit, the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Unit, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Bliss, Texas, was conducting what has become a commonplace but dangerous foot patrol. (Les Neuhaus / S&S)

Ahmad Mohammad Ali, a taxi driver, talks with an interpreter as he holds his prayer beads. Ali says he doesn't think American forces should be in Iraq, and that many of Iraq’s problems are a direct result of their presence.

Ahmad Mohammad Ali, a taxi driver, talks with an interpreter as he holds his prayer beads. Ali says he doesn't think American forces should be in Iraq, and that many of Iraq’s problems are a direct result of their presence. (Les Neuhaus / S&S)

Spc. Steven Baugher, 20, of Kingston, Mich., kneels during a foot patrol in the northern Iraqi town of al Qayyarah.

Spc. Steven Baugher, 20, of Kingston, Mich., kneels during a foot patrol in the northern Iraqi town of al Qayyarah. (Les Neuhaus / S&S)

Cpl. Mason Radcliff, 22, of Prattville, Ala., (foreground) and Sgt. Francisco Santana, Jr., 28, whose family lives in El Paso, Texas, provide security for a team in a busy market about 300 feet behind them. The soldiers, with the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, are next to an open sewer and piles of trash.

Cpl. Mason Radcliff, 22, of Prattville, Ala., (foreground) and Sgt. Francisco Santana, Jr., 28, whose family lives in El Paso, Texas, provide security for a team in a busy market about 300 feet behind them. The soldiers, with the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, are next to an open sewer and piles of trash. (Les Neuhaus / S&S)

Staff Sgt. Tyler Trumble, 32, of Altmar, N.Y., peers around a corner while leading a team providing security for soldiers sweeping through the marketplace of al Qayyarah.

Staff Sgt. Tyler Trumble, 32, of Altmar, N.Y., peers around a corner while leading a team providing security for soldiers sweeping through the marketplace of al Qayyarah. (Les Neuhaus / S&S)

Mideast edition, Tuesday, July 17, 2007

QAYYARAH, Iraq — Foot patrols tend to be dangerous work for the U.S. military in Iraq, and though infantrymen typically conduct these operations, in Iraq, artillerymen are getting their fair share of the beat as well.

Members of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment did just that on Sunday afternoon in the market place of Qayyarah, 30 miles south of Mosul in Iraq’s north.

“The sacrifices that we make out here — I mean, we’re risking our lives when we go out on these patrols,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Vincenty, 25, of Manhattan, N.Y.

He was here in 2003, when U.S. forces invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein. He left the Army under honorable conditions after his enlistment was later completed. But he chose to come back for more and re-enlisted again last year — volunteering for another tour of duty in Iraq.

“It’s tough, but hey, what are ya gonna do?” he said.

Iraqi police participated in the patrol, providing cover to the troops, who, as artillerymen, are performing support to other members of their battalion, even acting as a quick reaction force at times. They have to mingle with locals, who view them with both gratitude and suspicion.

“They make our area safe,” shopkeeper Hussein Ali said through an interpreter as the troops bought some snacks from him. “I don’t think I am a target because they are here. I’m thankful for them because we need our area safe.”

Not everyone shared his enthusiasm.

“If the Americans would leave Iraq, then we would be safe,” said taxi driver Ahmad Mohammad Ali, a bystander to the troops’ patrol. “They are bringing the bombs here. Before they came, we people in Iraq didn’t care about who was Sunni or Shiite — they are the ones making this point by dividing us.”

The patrol itself — with its up-armored Humvees with various makes of heavy machine guns poking out and twisting around in the turrets — heaved down the street at the same pace as the soldiers on foot, and became a sort of circus show for the locals’ curiosity.

Some of the people scowled as the troops passed. Some business owners smiled, however, and tried to make a pitch to the troops for their wares.

Qayyarah is a township of roughly 22,000, according to local officials. Its proximity to Forward Operating Base Q-West, about 20 minutes east from the base by road, makes it an easy place for the U.S. Army to monitor. FOB Q-West is the temporary home to the battalion and a host of other support personnel.

The market was quiet for the most part on Sunday, which was good for the soldiers. They were able to pick up some valuable intelligence through specific queries posed to shopkeepers by the interpreters.

By the end of the patrol, the soldiers had sweated through their uniforms in the torturous heat.


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