The 172nd Stryker Brigade assumes responsibility for combat operations in northern Iraq, with the city of Mosul as the focal point. In that context, the 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery will conduct operations in the Tigris River Valley. The battalion’s moniker is “Task Force Thunder.”
Many of those operations will be of an economic, political and military nature. It is what Wuestner calls an “effects-based operation.”
“We will work with all aspects of rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure, and one of those challenges will be economics,” Wuestner said.
“The goal is to transition them from U.S. assistance for security and economic growth to the Iraqis.”
Some economic growth has begun. A new medical clinic will soon be built, creating jobs and medical care for the local inhabitants.
This battalion is taking over an area previously covered by two battalions. Don’t think that the insurgents and terrorists won’t notice. Enemy activity often picks up when a new unit takes over in an effort to take advantage of greener troops who aren’t as familiar with the location.
The battalion will work with the local population to gather information on threats, while at the same time continuing to rebuild and train the Iraqi army.
“There are three very good Iraqi army battalions in the area,” Wuestner said. “The goal is to turn everything over to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army, but it will be a long process.”
Iraqi forces are stepping it up in the area, and have been doing a lot of good things in and around Mosul over the past few months. Let’s hope that trend continues.