Joint patrols will end as the US exits Iraq by the close of December. There's trepidation on both sides, as US troops answer last-minute security questions from Iraqi soldiers.
Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo/US Air Force
At the headquarters of the 447th Expeditionary Security Forces squadron, US troops are working 'round-the-clock to impart the last bits of knowledge they can to Iraqi forces before the clock runs out and their partnership comes to an end.
On Tuesday night they will link up with their Iraqi counterparts and together patrol the outer reaches of what’s left of the US military presence in Iraq. This includes the perimeter of the American-run airfield here, where the focus for the past 2-1/2 weeks has been on the finer points of how to keep a military base secure.
There have been lessons in the basics, too, as US troops answer last-minute questions from Iraqi soldiers on everything from the best way to check for bombs to the security benefits of simply sitting in silence, listening for unusual sounds.
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“It’ll be a new experience, and for some of them, almost scary,” says Staff Sgt. Donald Go Forth, of the departure of American forces. “A couple of them don’t necessarily want us to leave – they’ll be on their own.”
On this point, a handful of Iraqi soldiers concur as they prepare for a 12-hour overnight security shift here. They say they feel proud to finally take the reins of security for themselves, but they admit to some trepidation, too.