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Things were quiet in Babil province, south of Baghdad, where more than 1,400 candidates vied for 30 provincial council seats in Saturday’s election.

U.S. troops with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment out of Schweinfurt, Germany, were staged in about nine locations throughout the northern portion of Babil province, ready to respond if Iraqi forces called for help.

"Things are going very well out there," said Maj. John Best, executive officer for Task Force 1-2, which is the battalion’s designation during this deployment. "Our troops have been working very closely with the Iraqis. They’ve spent these past couple of days — weeks actually — doing assessments in the area."

As of Saturday afternoon, U.S. troops in the area had not been called on for assistance.

The 172nd Infantry Brigade, which also operates on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, coordinated a medical response plan with provincial reconstruction teams and Iraqi health officials in Babil province and Karbala in case of any election day violence.

U.S. military medical personnel were ready to respond in the event Iraqi hospitals had an overflow of wounded, and U.S. medical evacuation crews were on standby to treat and transport any casualties.

Soldiers with Troop E, 5th Cavalry Regiment escorted officials with the Babil provincial reconstruction team to seven polling sites in eastern Babil. The soldiers were very careful to "keep plenty of standoff" from the security perimeters Iraqi forces had established around the polling sites, said Maj. Ian Lauer, Troop E’s commander.

No violence occurred around the polling sites the soldiers visited, said Lauer whose unit is based out of Grafenwöhr, Germany.

"There was a lot of excitement," he said. "People were going in and coming out with their fingers marked."


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