— The advanced party for Alpha Company
climbs aboard helicopters in the middle of the night on
their way to a small village in northern Iraq. Coalition
forces have received intelligence that possible AIF
(Anti-Iraqi Forces) are in the village.
After a short ride, the aircraft
touch down near the village, and U.S. Soldiers file out
quickly into the surrounding fields.
These Soldiers are part of a
containing force, which keeps bad guys from escaping the
The night is filled with the rumble
of diesel engines as the helicopters depart and members
of the containing force keep a careful eye on the
The search element arrives in their
armored humvees, take positions alongside the containing
force and provide security with their weapons.
Search teams dismount and move into
the village, their NVGs (Night Vision Goggles) sweeping
Photo by 1st Lt.
Staff Sgt. Lenny "Pappy" Ables, Alpha Company,
Oregon National Guard,
pulls security on top of his
This mission and many like it are
what members of Detachment 3, Headquarters and
Headquarters Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery, Draper,
and Bravo Battery, 1-148th, Brigham City,
conduct on a regular basis.
These Soldiers’ traditional job
is to provide artillery support on a conventional
battlefield, but the Global War on Terror is anything
but conventional. Their unit has been reorganized with
an infantry structure, and Soldiers conduct missions and
patrols just like any infantry unit would.
Sgt. Drew Scown is one of these. He
is a forward observer; a member of a team that sets up
observation posts and calls artillery fire onto the
Today Scown is an Air Assault
Infantryman, one who drops in suddenly around a village
to cordon off the area. If the village turns hostile,
Scown will let the rest of the unit know immediately.
Photo by 1st Lt.
Operations last the entire night, and the sun
is a welcome sight in Northern Iraq.
It is in these first few moments
after he puts his boots on the ground that the tempo of
the evening will be decided. Will the villagers
cooperate? Will a suspected insurgent decide he will
not go down without a fight?
Thankfully, villagers know to stay
inside their homes during these kinds of operations, and
insurgents know that they do not stand a chance in a
direct conflict with our forces.
The evening goes well, and
suspected insurgents handcuffed with zip-ties are loaded
onto a truck. No shots were fired, and the mission is a
In come the helicopters to pick up the
containing force, and they all return to their FOB
(Forward Operating Base) to prepare for another day.