News / Middle East

US Troops Clear Highway for Pullout from Iraq

Arash Arabasadi

All U.S. combat troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the month.  The road south to Kuwait has been a hotbed of anti-American violence, roadside bombs and assaults by insurgents.  Teams like Minnesota's 1st Platoon A-Company 2-135 Infantry are clearing the last stretch of highway from Iraq to Kuwait of threats to exiting convoys.  

It’s just another day for the men assigned to protect American convoys leaving Iraq.  Troops, trucks and cargo travel the Main Supply Route into Kuwait… mostly without incident… because of soldiers like these.

"Our task is to do a patrol," said Team Leader, Lieutenant Derek Malner. "The purpose is to not only clear the route… but also to deter threats, if there were enemy activity on that route for convoys moving north and south."

They are called CSTs… or, convoy security teams, and it’s units like this one that ride in the military’s heavily armored, IED-defeating Caiman truck.   They travel north from Kuwait to the Iraq border - the K-Crossing - where they receive their mission briefing, assemble their .50 caliber turret-mounted machine guns, and head out into the desert.

It’s not long before the security team experiences radio troubles.

So they stop.  All of them.  Out here, in the desert, groups like this must work together to survive in the vast emptiness of southern Iraq… because usually, nothing good waits for them.

"There was a vehicle trailing us with their lights on, when we started slowing down, they turned their lights off and did a U-turn," said Malner.

And A-Company followed….

"For every situation, we have the correct, practiced reaction," said Lieutenant Malner.

The vehicle is not a threat…and the team rendezvouses with one of the last convoys passing through Iraq to provide safe passage to Kuwait.

"It’s our duty," said Malner. "We’re infantrymen.  Tonight was easy.  Tonight was a 10-hour event.  Quick: get in; get out.  Support the convoys that are moving north and south."

"This is my job; this is what I signed-up to do," said gunner, Sergeant Ryan Appleby. "And whether I like it or not I’m going to do it… I’m going to do it right."

Specialist Sean Raleigh was here in 2003, at the onset of the U.S. invasion… and now he’s here in its final days.  

"A lot happened between the beginning and no, but coming in and closing the door.  It’s definitely  the biggest reality check was: I swore that I’d never come back here.  And here I am again," said Raleigh.

And here they’ll be until the last convoy passes into Kuwait.  For the men of the 2-135… it’s just another day at the office.  For the thousands of Americans heading south into Kuwait… it’s their ticket to safe passage across the desert of southern Iraq.  

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs