Iraqi-U.S. Joint Patrol Works to Deter Oil Looting
By Sgt. Patrick Lair, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
TIKRIT, Iraq—Members of 1st Armored Division’s Combat Operating Base Speicher Security Detachment recently teamed up with their local Iraqi police counterparts to put an end to oil looting near the U.S. military base outside Tikrit.
On April 3rd, Reaper Platoon of the 1st A.D. Special Troops Battalion joined several Iraqi policemen to patrol the al-Ewayij area, close to COB Speicher, to impress upon local residents that oil looting will not be tolerated.
“Basically, our overall goal is to increase the legitimacy of Iraqi security forces in the area while at the same time maintaining enough of a presence to deter any outside forces from establishing themselves in the area,” said Capt. Chris Gonzales, commander of the COB Speicher Security Detachment.
During the day’s patrol, U.S. Soldiers and Iraqi police visited the home of a local sheik to discuss ways of preventing locals from looting adjacent pipelines.
Both American and Iraqi commanders, seated around the living room of Sheik Mohammed Aieed Mohammed of al-Ewayij, explained that people have been digging up oil lines which run beneath COB Speicher and all the way to Bayji.
The looters are not only stealing resources from the Iraqi people but also creating environmental hazards, they said.
“When they crack open the lines they always leave massive amounts of oil spilled on the ground, which then contaminates the water supply,” Gonzales said.
“This pollution infects the drinking water for local residents which may someday cause birth defects in our children and grand-children,” said Capt. Mohammed of the local Iraqi police force.
Sheik Mohammed, after a round of hot chai, agreed to work with coalition forces to get the word out among local residents that oil looting from local pipelines will not be tolerated. He invited both commanders to return to his home for dinner.
The joint patrol later visited a nearby pipeline which was guarded by local Iraqi army soldiers who said they have set up checkpoints in the area to guard against this type of looting. The soldiers agreed to work with coalition forces to crack down on oil theft in the area.
At the end of the patrol, U.S. and Iraqi forces parted ways and Capt. Mohammed thanked his U.S. counterparts.
“We have done good work today,” he said.
The COB Speicher Security Detachment, also known as the Quick Reaction Force, is made up of soldiers pulled from different areas of the Special Troops Battalion. In addition to Reaper Platoon, the detachment also includes two platoons from the Aviation Support Battalion and one platoon from the 111th Engineer Brigade.
Since beginning their deployment, the QRF has conducted daily missions outside the base, focusing on patrolling the area around the base as well as building relationships with the local residents.