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Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Salutes Rakkasan's Red Knights

Thanks to Captain AMY A. BISHOP (Captain, Team Bravo Leader, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Tikrit, Iraq "RAKKASANS") for the below information. Keep up the good work! - The Team

Red Knights Assist Iraqi Forces to Reestablish Security and a Productive Government
By Spc Waine D. Haley, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

TIKRIT, Iraq (January 28, 2006) - People helping people is the way the Rakkasan's Red Knights are bringing the Tikrit region back to peace and stability.

The 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, the battalion known as the Red Knights, is working with the Iraqi people to build a government that will bring peace and safety to their area.

"We're tasked to partner with Iraqi security forces and to fight the counter insurgency," said Lt. Col. Richard D. Root, commander for the 3/320th Field Artillery Regiment, "We are here to reestablish the security and a productive government to the Salah Ad Din province and Tikrit."

The goal is to have the local government provide their own security and infrastructure to their population. Coalition Forces are doing this in a number of different ways.

The security aspect is being accomplished with training and support for the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and the 9th Strategic Infrastructure Battalion.

"The Iraqi army is ready to assume a battle space." said Root, "We have taken them through the validation process. We have gone through all the critical gates we have to go through. They perform well; they get better each and every time."

This is a recommendation that the 3/320th commander is scheduled to make to his chain of command this week.

According to Root, this is the year of the Iraqi Police. There are 21 IP stations in Tikrit. The Red Knights will be working with them and building partnerships by providing assistance and training.

The 9th SIB performs a key roll in providing the area infrastructure security. They protect the electrical power lines and the oil pipe lines.

"The counter insurgency fight requires subtasks and partnerships." said Root, "Without their [IA, 9th SIB, IP] commitment to fight counter-insurgency, Coalition forces would not be successful. We provide a lot of enablers to those elements to help them accomplish that mission. They are in the lead almost 100 percent of the time."

While fighting Anti-Iraqi Forces is the first and foremost task for the 3/320th, the primary focus for Root is building working relationships with the government. He is working with the governor, city council, the mayor and all individual city municipalities.

Root has built upon relationships that the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion started in Operation Iraqi Freedom I.

"The Civil Affairs team has been here about six months so they have a relationship already established." said Root, "I'm focusing my energy as Battalion Commander to reaffirm those relationships to continue forward progress."

Key issues range from infrastructure problems, such as electricity and water, to making sure the government officials prioritize their budget dollars.

"We are trying to coach them and mentor them into taking ownership of areas, making it better for all of Tikrit." said Root, "Not to be tribally focused or focused on their constituents. They need to prioritize their limited budget. Their priority needs to be the projects that will make the greatest impact on the whole area."

The Coalition Forces are working with the Iraqis on a daily basis. They are giving the Iraqi leaders a hand up, not a hand out. With the decrease of casualties and damage of property, the area is showing a progressive move towards stability.

"We are doing a great work here, we are taking it to the enemy, we are fighting the counter insurgency fight and we are doing this with our Iraqi brothers." said Root, "We are working hand in hand with the key leaders of the community. They are making progress everyday and everyday they are taking charge. They are setting their future."

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