Our Third Infantry Division soldiers are training Iraqi forces, from police officers on the streets to soldiers now on the front lines. They're working together and comparing notes, the Iraqis teaching Americans the lay of the land in the Sunni Triangle, the Americans helping the Iraqis learn military technique and how to organize patrols and full-blown operations.
They called one along the Tigris River "Operation River Street."
"[We] named operations about places around Savannah, to remind us of back home," said Col. Mark McKnight, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, whom we interviewed in Iraq via satellite.
They're chasing insurgents out of the streets to more remote areas. "River Street was an operation designed to go out to the islands of the Tigris River and clear those islands of insurgent caches or areas where they might have sanctuary," said Col. McKnight. "One of the battalions in our brigade trained several weeks on riverine operations and the use of military boats.
"You basically went from island to island in the Tigris River, from the city of Baji all the way down to the city of Bilad," he explained.
The operation took a lot of weapons off Iraqi streets, and made it just a little harder for the insurgents. "You see a lot of violence on TV," noted Col. McKnight. "This is a different kind of fight, there isn't the big victory, there isn't the capture of the Baghdad Airport, capture of the capital. This battle, these fights, being won one engagement at a time."
When we spoke with Col. McKnight yesterday afternoon, he said the troops did have a Memorial Day ceremony to honor soldiers killed in Iraq, but then they went right back to the mission as usual.