Soldiers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion/14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division interacted with Iraqis in Tarmiyah, Iraq, in a variety of settings during the month of June. The company commander engaged the local tribal leader at dinner. Enlisted soldiers talked to Sons of Iraq members during patrols of their citywide positions, but still searched and questioned those Iraqis they encountered in the less-stable countryside. Most of their days are not spent on typical infantry missions, but as one Alpha Company platoon sergeant put it, “infantrymen haven’t been doing typical infantrymen’s jobs for a long time.”
The area has been free of active combat for some time. Yet, insurgent forces still target the more vulnerable Sons of Iraq members, and roadside and vehicle-borne bombs killed several of them in recent weeks. Part of the $300/month paycheck a Sons of Iraq member receives is designated for the “martyr’s fund,” and is meant to support their family members. Large portraits of four killed Sons of Iraq members are placed in prominent positions in the community.
While secure to a point, maintaining that security is an equal priority. During one recent visit by central government officials from Baghdad, the entire downtown market was cordoned off, restricted to car and foot traffic. It seemed extreme, but a suicide bomber targeted a similar meeting in Anbar Province, killing a US Marine battalion commander, a local mayor, and many others. So for Alpha Company, security, not convenience, was always the priority.