What Happens in Taji/Georgia National Guard Soldiers Support Their Battalion While Working in Different Areas

By 1Lt. Benjamin Roberts
926th Engineer Brigade

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – The month of October certainly kept the 848th Engineer Company out of Douglas, Ga., in the spirit of the Cobra motto, “Eight-Four-Eight is taking over!”

As another month is torn from the calendar on the company commander’s desk, Capt. Israel Brown, who hails from Macon, Ga., can’t help but think of all the great things the ‘Cobras’ have been doing.

It isn’t possible to review the many facets of what the company has accomplished these past 31 days in one report, said Brown. However, there are several events that stand out in everyone’s memory of the past month.

Being the lone representative of the 890th Engineer Battalion from Gulfport, Miss., and now operating at Camp Taji, the ‘Cobras’ have many missions devoted to supporting their sister companies and the battalion as a whole.

When route clearance teams at Camp Liberty makes their way north, many times they stay the night with the 848th Engineer Company. With true Southern hospitality, the phrase “mi casa es su casa” is brought to life.

If one of the RCTs has maintenance issues, the Cobra maintenance section is quick to provide their expertise. A mechanic is on call from the minute any 890th element enters the Cobra operational environment in Taji, until they begin their return patrol and leave the company’s OE on their way back to the Victory Base Complex or other destinations.

Such was the case on the night of Oct. 25, 2008. The 688th Mobility Augmentation Company of Harrison, Ark., arrived in Taji and were having trouble with their Buffalo vehicle. The Buffalo seemed to have transmission troubles and would not move although the operator was pressing the gas. The Buffalo was not outside the wire and the Cobra maintenance team consisting of Staff Sgt. Phillip Giaimo of Fort Valley, Ga., and Sgt. Henry Palmer of Douglas, Ga., immediately went to their location to assess the situation. Upon arrival, the two mechanics determined it would be best to bring the Buffalo to the maintenance motor pool for further examination and allow the rest of the 688th MAC to continue on their important mission.

The two Cobra mechanics quickly retrieved a Husky to tow the Buffalo back to the motor pool so they could get a better assessment. The Cobras successfully pulled the brute to the motor pool where it was assessed that the electrical system that controls the transmission was not functioning and the 890th sent a truck to take the Buffalo home in the end.

Another aspect of the Cobra mission in Taji is to conduct not only their primary mission of route clearance, but the continuous implementation of counter insurgent operations throughout the OE. This is something the platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Michael Cooper of Dahlonega, Ga., takes very seriously and regards as one of the ways in which the war is being won.

Although maintenance it the top priority for the platoon, building a relationship comes second.

“It is important to stop and interact with the local populace and the Iraqi security forces in order to establish a relationship and eventually allow them to take over the job for themselves with the confidence they need to be successful,” said Cooper.

It is in this spirit that the 2nd platoon of the 848th Engineer Company always works a counter insurgency stop or two into their route clearance patrols to speak with community leaders, Sons of Iraq, Iraqi police, Iraqi army and especially the children.

“We like to bring the children candy and toys because it brightens their day and they will see us as friends and not adversaries,” said Staff Sgt. Ricky Morinaga of Waycross, Ga. This is important because the parents see this as a friendly gesture to further building the trust between the Soldiers and the local populace.

Americans throughout the United States contribute to this effort.

“The donations provided by the generous people back home allow us to do our job here and make friends at the same time,” said Cooper.

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