Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, conduct a foot patrol through the village of Kesra in southern Khanassa, Iraq, Feb. 24. (Photo/Sgt. Timothy Kingston, 55th Combat Camera)
Spc. Mark Matthews, from Springfield, Mass., a medic in Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, provides security during an operation in the village of Kesra in southern Khanassa, Iraq, Feb. 24. (Photo/Sgt. Timothy Kingston, 55th Combat Camera)
Sgt. Max Free, with the 67th Engineer Company, currently attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, watches as Sam, a military search dog, looks for weapons and munitions during an operation in the village of Kesra in southern Khanassa, Iraq, Feb. 24. (Photo/Sgt. Timothy Kingston, 55th Combat Camera)
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, visited the village of Kesra in southern Khanassa, Iraq, Feb. 24 to meet with local leaders.
Soldiers and leaders, including the commander of the 1-15th Inf. Regt., Lt. Col. Jack Marr, from Minneapolis, visited the village to discuss how coalition forces can support the area’s humanitarian and security needs.
“We have only done air assault missions in the area in the past,” said Maj. John Cushing, from Rochester, Mich., the 1-15 Inf. Regt. operations officer. “No one has been there for the reasons we were today. They had not seen coalition forces driving during the day since 2006.”
Cushing said Khanassa has been a hostile area in the past.
“We were unsure of how we were going to be welcomed,” he said. “But I think they were just as curious as we were.”
The welcome was not what they had expected, Cushing said. Local leaders greeted the unit by coming to the front gate of Combat Outpost Carver, home to Company B, 1-15th Inf. Regt., to escort the Soldiers to their village.
“After the meeting we had with about 25 different sheiks, we did a foot patrol through the town and people followed us,” Cushing said. “It was a warm welcome.”
Cushing said he was impressed by the village’s organization. Citizens were securing their community with guard positions without any help from coalition forces.
“They had a robust market,” he said. “It was probably better than any market I’ve seen in our (area of operation). It looked like they weren’t hurting for any supplies.”
Despite their stability, Cushing said there are still ways to assist the village. Plans are in the works to provide the village with water.
“We will continue to work with the sheiks,” Cushing said. “We want to set up the town for future relationships and improvements. This is a good example of how towns all over Iraq are starting to come together to force al-Qaida out.”
The 1-15 Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.