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3rd ID teams up with Iraqi divisions
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The 3rd Infantry Division has been all over the news as your soldiers are aggressively taking the fight to the enemy in Operation Marne Torch. They are expelling al Qaida from a safe haven, and they are capturing insurgents to make the population secure. But the fight is not just theirs; it is shared with the Iraqis. Everywhere Task Force Marne operates, the Iraqi soldiers are strong and their leaders are stronger.Every time I meet an Iraqi leader, they are doing the right thing. Our division is paired with the 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 8th Iraqi Army Division — who are always focused on doing the right thing. Their commanders are magnificent Iraqis, not Shia, not Sunni. They lead soldiers to do the right thing.Operations are joint, patrol bases are shared, and planning is done in coordination with the Iraqis. When I visit our joint patrol bases, I can’t tell which building belongs to the Americans and which building belongs to the Iraqis. Iraqi company commanders are fighting alongside American company commanders, performing the same functions under the same responsibilities.Last week, I met a young Iraqi lieutenant who had been in the Army for four years. Because his enlistment paperwork was lost, he was never promoted or received a pay increase during those four years. When I asked him what he was going to do, he told me he was going to keep being a soldier — his country needed him and he felt honored serving alongside our American troops.The American commander serving with him later told me this lieutenant not only takes full ownership for his operating environment, but their area used to be subject to an average of nine attacks per week. Under the Iraqi lieutenant's leadership only one IED went off over the course of 76 patrols last week.Our soldiers are not only living together and patrolling together, but they share guard towers. I climbed into one thinking I was giving an American soldier a coin for excellence, only to find his battle buddy was an Iraqi soldier manning the gun.Operation Marne Torch shows you how embedded the two armies are — American soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice, but so have their Iraqi brothers-in-arms. It is truly one team, one fight.The fight isn’t only shared by the Americans and the Iraqis. Ten days ago the Marne Division assumed control of the Wasit Province. Camp Delta, the base our troops operate from, is home to American, Georgian (from the nation not our beautiful home-state), El Salvadoran, Kazakh, Polish, and Romanian units. Beginning this month, an entire brigade with three battalions from the country of Georgia will deploy to Iraq and help us conduct combat operations.The Georgians asked to join the fight and their government has given them no restrictions other than to treat them like every other tactical brigade. In the fifth year of this war, a country whose military is only four years old is stepping up and joining the fight.Just this weekend, I met a 37-year-old specialist from Sweden who joined our Army because he believes the United States is “the best country in the world.” Once a Swedish journalist heard about him, she flew to Iraq to tell his story. Not only does this soldier receive fan mail, but many Swedish men want to join the United States Army because of his contributions to freedom. After this deployment, he wants to become an officer or join the Special Forces. His belief in American ideals moves me.This Fourth of July, I’m so humbled by the work of our soldiers. The complexity of a coalition fight is hard. In my headquarters alone I have Arabic, Georgian, Russian and Spanish linguists, but the results are worth the effort.This week, America celebrates its 231st birthday and the freedom its citizens protected for all those years. As I look across the 3rd Division, which is called Multi-National Division — Center, it is truly multi-national, truly diverse and truly magnificent. It is full of soldiers who want to do the right thing — achieve a better freedom for all the Iraqi people, and for the many nations we call home.Rock of the Marne!Capt. Allie Chase contributed to this article.
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