Bliss' Highlander Brigade Spearheads New Mission In Iraq
Since 2003, U.S. Forces have evolved from high-intensity combat, to counterinsurgency and now stability operations in Iraq. The Soldiers of the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division “Highlander” are at the vanguard of the Army’s new direction by serving as the proof of principal unit for the military’s advise and assist mission.
The brigade advises and assists Iraqi Army, Police, and border enforcement units; as well as, improving civil capacity and essential services for Iraqi people by collaborating with U.S. State Department provincial reconstruction teams and the Government of Iraq.
Soldiers from the brigade’s six battalions operate Dhi Qar, Maysan, and Muthanna provinces across southern Iraq, criss-crossed by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, on historic desert lands and marshes. Each province has a bustling capital city and rural areas dotted by villages where time stands still. Ancient landmarks like the 4,000 year old Ziggurat at Ur and the Urek (Erech) ruins add rich character to landscape.
As a provision of the June 30 U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement implementation, U.S. Forces moved out of cities and ceased unilateral security operations in urban areas. This actually resulted in stronger relationships with their Iraqi counterparts, having them take the lead in planning and conducting security missions in southern Iraq. Now when Highlander brigade convoys move through towns they are escorted by the Iraqi Police or Army.
In years past the U.S. Army’s role as trainers included rudimentary skills like marching and marksmanship instruction. Today, the Iraqis are requesting courses on crime scene investigation, mortar firing techniques, explosive ordnance disposal, combat life saving skills, and advanced vehicle maintenance. The brigade and Iraqi Security Forces share more intelligence than ever before with the U.S. marrying electronic surveillance with the Iraqis extensive human source networks.
This partnership is resulting in more effective crime-fighting operations that provide not just a detainee, but actual evidence that Iraqi judges can use for prosecuting crimes.
While there is much work to be done, troops still find the time to develop meaningful relationships with their Iraqi counterparts. They build lifelong friendships over such events as soccer games, combatives tournaments, movie nights and meals during their down time between training and missions.
Soldiers are not only in great partnerships with their Iraqi counterparts, but also with other defense agencies, they work hand in hand with various Navy, Air Force and Marine personnel along with DoD and other governmental agency civilians specializing in intelligence and rule of law.
To improve the ability of U.S. State Department provincial reconstruction teams to deliver projects and training for Iraqi people the Highlander Brigade has a battalion tasked with synchronizing civilian experts, professional engineers, and civil affairs units that help the Iraqi Government deliver critical services to their people. The goal is to help establish an Iraqi first economy, essential services (clean water, electricity), strong agriculture, good governance and credible national elections.
The Highlanders are led by Colonel Peter A. Newell and Command Sergeant Major Phillip D. Pandy.
The battalions of the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division: 2nd Squadron, 13th Calvary Regiment “Sabers”; 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment “Regulars”; 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment “Steel Tigers”; 2nd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment “Pathfinders”; 121st Brigade Support Battalion “Iron Hammer”; 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion “Strike Force.”
The success of our ranks could not have happened without the continued support of all of you back home. When Family, friends and El Pasoans embrace our unit and continue to show the love that they have, it gives our Soldiers the strength to carry on in this vital mission. The constant packages, letters, pictures and emails from all of you are a great morale-booster for our troops and it helps keep their eyes on the prize.
Spc. Bradley J. Clark, 4BCT, 1AD
public affairs, contributed to thisarticle.