By Spc. Amanda Morrissey
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
KIRKUK, Iraq – U.S. Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, with the assistance of G Company, 3-7 FA Soldiers, delivered several concrete barriers to traffic checkpoints in the Khabbaz region near Kirkuk.
The barriers were set up at three 1st Strategic Infrastructure Battalion (SIB) checkpoints in order to improve security for Iraqi soldiers manning their posts.
The 1st SIB received the barriers a few months ago, but didn’t have the means to move them, said Capt. Mark Barton, the HHB commander in charge of the mission.
“Their commander had expressed an interest in getting those moved to some of the checkpoints as better protection for his guards out there, so we did this for them because we had the equipment to move the barriers,” Barton continued.
The 1st SIB is responsible for guarding the 29 oil wellheads and pipelines in the Khabbaz region. They also work with local Iraqi police by manning checkpoints in order to maintain security in the area.
SIB soldiers work with very little in the way of supplies. This makes the barriers a big step forward for the SIB in the area.
“The barriers will make the drivers reduce their speeds through here, as well as provide extra protection for the soldiers from any attacks,” said Capt. Qais Aswad Bunyan, the 1st SIB operations officer, through an interpreter. “Also, they give the checkpoint an appropriate appearance. People will know this is checkpoint now when they come up to it.”
SIB commanders chose which locations to put the barriers depending upon which checkpoint needed them most, said Barton.
While the jersey barriers are important to improving the effectiveness of the checkpoints, they’re only the first step in Barton’s plans towards building a partnership with the SIB. He would like to work with the soldiers to get them further training in first aid and weapons skills, as well as vehicle maintenance procedures.
For now, the addition of necessary supplies to the checkpoints will help the joint mission of coalition forces and Iraqi security forces to secure the area for industry and the populace.
“For us, it’s simple to put some cones out, but for these soldiers, it’s a really big step,” Barton said. “The SIB soldiers take pride in putting this stuff out and using it.”