Soldiers from Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment emplace an Unattended Ground Sensor during a nighttime operation Feb. 25. The sensors allow the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement to track potential smugglers and their routes, making sure their illegal cargo does not enter Iraq.
Story by Cody Harding
WASIT PROVINCE, Iraq – The border between Iraq and Iran is heavily guarded, with numerous forts on both sides. However, illegal weapons and other dangerous items are still carried into Iraq by smugglers who supply extremists fighting against the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement is tasked with dealing with security and interdicting smuggling along the border. With the national elections approaching, its job becomes even more important to the security of the voters across the country.
With tactical and technological assistance from A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the DBE's 3rd Battalion, 7th Brigade keeps a watch on the border with Iran in Wasit Province.
Spc. Paul Gauthier, a Cavalry Scout with "Assassin" Troop, said that working with the Iraqis is vital in protecting the border with Iran.
"There's been talk of a lot of smuggling," he said. "So we're working with the Iraqis to try to minimize and cut down on all of the corruption and smuggling that's going on."
First Lt. Allan Keefer, A Troop, has patrolled the area several times and said that the Iraqi border guards in the area have been willing to train themselves and work with A Troop.
"They're well trained; we've had a lot of previous MiT [Military Transition] Teams and U.S Border Enforcement agents here," said Keefer. "So they're trained on the individual tasks well. We're working with them now so they can do their collective tasks."
Gauthier, a Honey Brook, Pa. native, said that working with the Iraqis on stopping smuggling has been a great experience.
"They're great to get along with," said Gauthier. "They're easy to talk to, they're willing to learn, and it's been going great so far."
Keefer, from Mercersburg, Pa., shared similar sentiments.
"The Iraqis that are working on the border are getting better every day," he said. "Their capabilities aren't quite where ours are, but they're using what they have and they're doing a good job with it. Of course they can always get better."
"We've denied a lot of terrain to the smugglers by dismounted patrols and different systems we use," Keefer said. "And we've done that all with the Iraqis."