Regiment adapts to new role as infantry
January 24, 2005
ABU GHRAIB, Iraq — Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment figure that if they look like infantry, act like infantry, and, if need be, fight like infantry, they’ll be treated like infantry.
So when the battalion recently moved to Abu Ghraib, just north of Camp Liberty, the unit was given its own operating sector, just like other infantry companies.
“We’ve owned this sector from the very beginning,” said company commander Capt. Bill Prayner. “We’ve been used as a maneuver company.”
“We do more things than being mortarmen,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brad McCarty, Mortar Platoon sergeant. “It’s an unexpected mission, but I’m glad we’ve got this mission.”
The mortar platoon’s mission on Thursday was to walk through farmers’ fields just north of the town and search for weapons caches. Most of the company’s five platoons have similar missions.
“We are an infantry platoon, how do you like that?” Mortarman Spc. Philip Morrison said as he manned his Humvee’s machine gun. “We’re not as big and can’t flex as much power (as a regular infantry platoon).”
Morrison pointed to his Humvee’s odometer as proof to the roads and fields his unit has been to. When the company received the Humvee two weeks earlier it had 68 miles on it. Now it’s approaching 1,500, he said.
Coming back from those fields after a few hours of searching, the remainder of the platoon reported success. Soldiers found a rusted rocket-propelled grenade launcher, some rusted magazines, a Russian-built rocket with its explosives removed and two 155mm artillery shells.
It was a pretty good day for soldiers who are trained to fire shells, not find them.
Along with the mortarmen on patrol that day were a handful of cooks and medics.
“The Army is looking for adaptive leaders and adaptive units,” said Prayner. “I utilize every guy I can. They all go out as riflemen.”
“We’re not special, we do our job every day,” he explained. “We’re just ‘blue collar.’”