‘First Lightning’ Battalion personal security detachment demonstrates versatility by taking on wide range of missions
Since arriving to Iraq in November 2010, soldiers with the personal security detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center have showcased their versatility, responding to the demands of an ever-changing environment at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, most recently during partnered force-protection patrols with their Iraqi counterparts.
For the greater part of the deployment, the PSD had little involvement with the 1st Iraqi Federal Police Division, with which the First Lightning Battalion is partnered. However, due to increasing demands for force protection and a mission focused on developing and maintaining a close working partnership, the PSD had to step up and quickly learn to work, partner and train with IFP officers.
“When we began training up for Operation New Dawn, we focused the training around being a personal security detachment for our battalion commander and command sergeant major,” said Sgt. Steven Castellon, a section leader with the PSD and a Midland, Texas, native. “That’s what we trained for at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, and is what we did for the better part of the deployment.”
Sgt. 1st Class Clay Rose, a platoon sergeant with the PSD and a Ulysses, Kan., native, recently joined the platoon because of his solid background in maneuver operations and partnership training with the 1st IFP.
“I noticed that the interaction of most of the guys in the PSD had with the IFP was brief,” Rose said. “Much of the planning for PSD was not done at their level, so I wanted to bring the soldiers into the fold.”
Rose said that the PSD’s success during partnered movements and training alike convinced many that the platoon could take on greater demands.
Since JSS Loyalty endured a deadly indirect fire attack earlier this summer, the platoon has taken on the added responsibility of conducting counter-indirect fire patrols within the First Lightning Battalion’s area of operations.
“When our leadership informed us that we were going to begin conducting counter-indirect fire patrols, there was no hesitation,” said Spc. Matthew Conrad, a member of the PSD and a Riverside, Calif., native. “What we were concerned about was how we were taking on a different task that we were not used to with the Iraqis.”
Conrad said that because of the platoon’s varied mission set, now augmented with partnered force-protection patrols, he felt like a utility player on a baseball team, ready to step in to fill a gap at a number of different areas of need.
The PSD found that their continued multi-faceted experience with the 1st IFP Div. led to an immediate rapport between the two units.
“It was very comforting to see an Iraqi police officer that you already know and that you already built some kind of relationship with,” Rose said. “There will probably always be communication issues between us, but we have a foundation to continue to build on instead of starting from scratch.”
Article by 1st Lt. Donald Gillilan, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C