Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Paratroopers Own Night in Air Assault Mission

"BAGHDAD – The heavy beating of rotor blades pierces the quiet of the night in farmland east of Baghdad and a dust cloud kicks up, almost concealing the two huge helicopters dimly outlined under the moonlight. Almost as soon as the helicopters touch the ground, ramps drop and dozens of American Soldiers, Iraqi soldiers and federal police storm out into the night and immediately snap into defensive positions.

The two CH-47 Chinooks take off and disappear almost as quickly as they arrived. Left in the darkness in a farmer's field, with its plowed rows sharp and hardened from the desert heat, the paratroopers move out toward their objectives along a series of dirt roads. But it's the Iraqis who are in front. It is their mission, and the paratroopers stand by watching and advising their counterparts.

"I can work with their lieutenants on troop-leading movements," said
Rohrer, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. "I've got PFCs [privates first class]
running right beside Iraqi PFCs teaching marksmanship."

Close behind the Iraqis are the paratroopers, who stop at intervals to give advice or a critique of the Iraqis' performance. Capt. Andrew Decker, an intelligence officer assigned to the 9th Iraqi Army Military Transition Team, confers with Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Fathil Hassan Al-Dulimay to offer advice on the Iraqi movements."

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