By Spc. Ryan Stroud
1st Cavalry Division public affairs
MUQDADIYA, Iraq — It’s dark and hot outside, so hot the sweat drips down your face and into your mouth, but you don’t even notice. You’re focused, ready to strike. But you’re quietly waiting for your moment. You’ll wait for hours if you have to. You’re on a mission and this mission won’t end until you say it does.
Those around you are also tired; sweating just as bad as you, but they are also focused and ready. They’re lying in the brush outside the city of Baqouba, Iraq, with you, waiting for your signal.
Just then, you see a small group of anti-Iraqi forces pull up on a dirt road. They dismount their truck and proceed to start digging a hole in the ground. One person brings out a small device with stringy wires hanging out of it. It’s an improvised explosive device getting ready to be planted into the ground.
This is your signal; this is what you were waiting patiently for. You get your soldiers on line with you and prepare for your attack. But this attack cannot fail. You’re surrounded by your team — a team confident in their training, equipment and skills.
You have to be perfect. You cannot mess up. You are responsible for those around you and they are counting on you to lead the way.
This is your time. This is your challenge. Can you handle the pressure?
These are the questions and responsibilities that face members of the 1st Platoon, Bravo Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s small-kill teams.
This small group of soldiers is the platoon’s best of the best. It’s their job to locate the enemy; then travel into unwanted territory to disable any missions anti-Iraqi forces could be planning against their brothers-in-arms.
But these soldiers are hard and dangerous, specifically trained to stop and kill the enemy they face.
“We are here to fight anti-Iraqi forces and other types of terrorists,” said Cpl. Cory Walter, assistant team leader. “We have a lot of them in our area and we’re here to stop them.”
“We watch (the enemy) and try to catch them in acts of placing roadside bombs, attacking villages, etc. We try to catch them before they can hurt us or our troops,” Spc. Andre Lobban said.
“When the insurgents don’t know you’re in the area, they will do bad things to those around them or to eventually harm us,” Walter said. “We’ve seen them try to plant roadside bombs and fire mortars at us. We have to stop them.”
This tactic of fighting is different than most present in the Army right now, but these soldiers know their mission is important and needs to be accomplished.
“This is a different type of warfare,” Walter said. “This is not typical, but it needs to be done.
“We try to be more aggressive,” he said. “We could drive around all day and visit people but we feel like we are achieving a different goal this way. We feel we are really getting things done out here by stopping (the enemy) from planting explosivesand other things of that nature.”
Though their missions are not secret, these Soldiers know keeping information on the down-low will help them with future missions.
Though their missions are not secret, these soldiers know keeping a close hold on information will help them with future missions.
“We do our best not to be compromised or compromise those around us,” Walter said. “You have to be safe and stay quiet.”
“You’re going behind enemy lines, reporting what’s happening,” Lobban said. “Once we see something bad happen, we either neutralize the enemy or we call for backup forces. We watch the enemy. We are the eyes and ears on the ground.”
But with these soldiers, fully knowing the dangers standing before them, still choose to take on these tasks and head outside the wire every day.
“We have received extra training and awesome training that gets us ready for so many things,” Lobban said. “We have great leadership that trusts us to get the job done and knows we will go out there and give our all for the mission.
“I thrive on catching things before they happen, and I know the other guys feel the same as well,” he said. “I mean, one-way firefights are the best firefights.”
“We like to go out there and catch people off-guard,” Walter said.
“There was a day when we ambushed a mortar team,” he said. “They were setting up to fire at our Bradley Fighting Vehicles that was located at an Iraqi army checkpoint.
“They didn’t even know we were there until it was too late for them,” he said. “That was a good feeling knowing we stopped them from harming our guys. They could have gotten lucky and gotten a direct hit on one of our Brads or killed any (Iraqi army) soldiers around. But we stopped that from happening.
“That’s why we do this, that’s why this job is important,” Walter said.
These soldiers admit to getting scared at times, but being scared won’t hinder their jobs as soldiers, said Walter.
“You could ‘What if?’ yourself all day long if you want to,” he said. “All you’re going to do is worry yourself to death. You got to focus on what’s at hand and get the job done.”
And the next day will be no different for the soldiers of their platoon’s small-kill team. They will pack up and head out the gate to another location, searching for the enemy to make one mistake.
“We’re just doing our job,” Lobban said. “I think this is a kickin’ job that we get to do. Not everybody gets to go on the missions we do or see the things that we see. We definitely see a different side of Iraq.”