1457th Engineer Battalion Extended in Iraq

 

Written by Maj. Lorraine Januzelli

Published April 14, 2004

   

A construction team from the 1457th Eng. uses a bulldozer to clear out rubble  in Iraq.
Photo Courtesy of Utah National Guard

 

A construction team from the 1457th Eng. uses a bulldozer to clear out rubble  in Iraq. 

DRAPER— The 1457th Engineer Battalion’s tour of duty has been extended, according to Pentagon officials. The unit has been mobilized since February 2003 and was expected to return home early next month.

     The 1457th Eng. are being extended as part of the 10,000-15,000 additional soldiers that were requested to help stabilize Iraq. As part of the 1st Armored Division Task Force, the 1457th Engineer Battalion will remain in Iraq as long as necessary to bring peace and stability to the country, according to the commanding generals of the U.S. Central Command and Task Force 1st Armored Division.

     Gen. John Abizaid, commander, U.S. Central Command said that the current unstable situation in Iraq is due to insurgents who do not want to see a free and prosperous Iraq.

     "I feel it is a small group of people, anti-democratic in their outlook, that are trying to stop the forward movement of the Iraqi people," Abizaid said.

     Task Force 1st Armored Division soldiers are battle hardened, know their communities and have relationships with local leaders and residents, Abizaid said.

     This is especially true for the engineers. Since their arrival in Iraq last year, the 1457th has worked directly with the Iraq people to rebuild the local infrastructure, including: schools, roads, bridges and the Baghdad Zoo.

One possible duty for the 1457th Eng. could be clearing main convoy routes.
Photo Courtesy of Utah National Guard

 

One possible duty for the 1457th Eng. could be clearing main convoy routes.   

    "We have some of the most experienced and battle ready troops currently on the ground. If the troops stay here has to be extended to get the job done, so be it," he said. "This is a slow campaign. We are trying hard not to harm innocent civilians. We will use U.S. and coalition troops as needed to get the job done."

    The 450 soldiers of the 1457th were in Kuwait preparing to leave the region, when rumors of the extension started circulating.

    "Although I imagine the troops are disappointed to have their

deployment extended, I believe they fully understand why they are needed in Iraq and are committed to see their mission through," said Brig. Gen. Stanley Gordon, the assistant adjutant general for Utah.

     Family assistance centers across the state are poised to provide extra assistance to family members of 1457th soldiers.

     "We understand this is a difficult time for many of the families and we stand ready to help them out in any way we can," stated Master Sgt. Ron Linton, family programs coordinator for Utah.

     Each deployed unit is assigned a family assistance coordinator to help families with everything from pay problems to flat tires while their spouse is away. To locate a family assistance in your area, call 801-523-4533.  

"Taking caring of their families is a number one concern of the soldiers deployed overseas and we take that concern seriously," said Linton.

     Currently, nearly 800 Utah National Guard soldiers and airmen are serving in Iraq. Another 500 Utah soldiers are either in or on their way to Afghanistan to support operations there.

     Overall, there are about 134,000 military personnel in Iraq right now, up from 120,000 in November.

Information from the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Baghdad was used to compile this story.

The 1457th worked to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq.  They helped to rebuild the Iraq Zoo.
Photo Courtesy of Utah National Guard

 

The 1457th worked to rebuild the
infrastructure of Iraq.  They helped to
rebuild the Iraq Zoo.