US troops patrol Baghdad on foot to win trust

August 17th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: US troops patrol Baghdad on foot to win trust

Media: Reuters
Byline: Ross Colvin
Date: 17 August 2006

U.S. troops are patrolling the streets in some Baghdad neighbourhoods on
foot in a new bid to win the trust of Iraqis, an unusual sight for many
residents more used to seeing them travel in armoured vehicle convoys.

Taking a more personal approach to Iraqis long critical of heavy handed
tactics is part of the strategy aimed at reclaiming Baghdad's most dangerous
neighbourhoods from insurgents and easing communal strife.

Thousands of U.S. reinforcements have arrived in Baghdad in recent weeks to
join a crackdown by U.S. and Iraqi forces on worsening sectarian violence
between once-dominant minority Sunnis and majority Shi'ites in the city.

Mindful of the three-year-old Sunni insurgency fighting to expel them from
Iraqi soil, U.S. commanders explain to residents that their aim is to
restore security in support of Iraqi police.

"I want to get this job done so I can go home and live with my family and
you can live with your family," Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Peterson,
commander of the First Squadron, 14th U.S. Cavalry, told one man through his
interpreter in al-Hadar, an area of the notoriously violent southern Dora

Peterson, whose unit usually travels in Stryker armoured vehicles, had
dismounted to talk to residents while his men and Iraqi police swept the
neighbourhood for illegal weapons.

"Certainly there is a renewed emphasis on troops interacting with the
people," he said when asked whether the U.S. military was adopting a new
tactic with the foot patrols.

Since arriving two weeks ago, two Strykers have been hit by roadside bombs,
causing no major damage, and several others have been shot at, soldiers
said. The unit's base has also been rocketed and mortared.

Foot patrols are far more risky.


Still, Peterson's walkabout appeared to pay off -- residents he spoke to
seemed happy to see U.S. soldiers back on the streets in force after months
of sectarian violence that has killed thousands and driven thousands more
from their homes.

"We feel safe when we see Americans," one man said to him, before pushing
Peterson to improve the poor electricity supply, and fix broken sewerage
pipes, a list of complaints repeated often and one Peterson promised to take
to the district council.

In many of his conversations, he emphasised the role of the Iraqi police in
helping to restore security to the area, an attempt to build up the
reputation of a force viewed by most Sunnis as an extension of the Shi'ite
militias they blame for much of the recent violence.

"I am hoping this mission with the national police will stop people being
killed in future," he assured one man who told him his father had been
killed in a drive-by shooting this week.

But police are widely viewed as poorly trained, politicised and less
competent than the Iraqi military, a concern U.S. officials hope to address
with retraining and embedding advisers.

And in a city where militias and criminal gangs often wear police uniforms,
winning the trust of Iraqis is vital.

Many of the policemen taking part in the raid on al-Hadar were young,
appeared uncertain, and wore a variety of camouflage uniforms and helmets.

"There is still work to be done, but every day they are getting better and
better," Peterson said. "Are they perfect? No. Will they be self-sufficient
in the future? Yes."
August 18th, 2006  
The Brits and us have been doing that since day one.
It works wonders....

Our cav scouts and infantry blokes have been doing patrols in Slouch hats and berets. It's a pay off between safety and building a raport.
August 18th, 2006  
Team Infidel
It's nut. Attacks using IED have gone up 80% since January. It's a huge risk.
August 18th, 2006  
It might build raport with the locals and run of the mill nationals. But the the clowns who want to shoot still shoot. We just give them an easier target.
August 23rd, 2006  
Yeah it is true. But if your gunna get shot, then a K pot is only a small help.

It's fairly traditional Australian style to not fight in a helmet. From the first world war onwards we'e gone with the good old slouch hat or beret while others put a helmet on. Vietnam is a classic example, while the US soldiers lugged around bullet proof vests and steel helmets the Aussies snuck around the joint in cotton bush hats and shirts. It doesn't stop shrapnel, but bugger me it makes fighting easier.

Maybe the reason we don't use helmets so often is because we've got such thick skulls.
August 24th, 2006  
It also helps to hand out sweets and toys like footballs to the kids.
Works wonders for intel gathering sometting the Aussies are doing quite well where they have been operating.
Body armour and pots was worn when I was there. So it must be relaxed in the green zone?
August 24th, 2006  
Maybe the reason we don't use helmets so often is because we've got such thick skulls.
Now who would you be refering to????.... I know you would have to be talking about those from the Dark Side... as us Diggers are way to clever <GRIN>

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