Story and photo by 1st Lt. Kyle Litchfield, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
BAGHDAD—Developing a strong partnership requires trust, and the Stability Transition Team “Phoenix” with 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center balances their traditional office meetings with its 6th Iraqi Army Division partners through training exercises, sit-down meals, and sporting events.
These activities are attended by the Soldiers of Company B, 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt. Company B’s Soldiers are the U.S. forces’ tactical partner of the 6th IA Div. on combined operations in northwestern Baghdad.
Training requests originating from the 6th IA Div. are typically first assessed by the key leadership of STT Phoenix, along with staff Maj. Gen. Ahmed, commanding general of the 6th IA Division, and his divisional staff.
However, the close proximity and the frequency of engagements between the Soldiers of the 6th IA Div. and Company B have also led to training events that are arranged and led by noncommissioned officers on both sides.
“Our partnership is outstanding, [and] we share the same focus of IA-led and IA-sustained training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Holmes, a platoon sergeant with Company B, 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt. and a Rockford, Ill., native.
The training challenges the junior leaders who conduct the training, Holmes said.
“It gives our young NCOs opportunities to enhance and develop their skills, which will make them stronger future leaders,” he said.
STT Phoenix and the leadership of Company B recently coordinated a sit-down with 6th IA Div. leadership in which they shared a meal. Fifteen IA officers took advantage of this chance to socialize with their counterparts in a relaxed environment.
“This is the first of many [meals] we will do,” said Lt. Col. William Duvall, the team chief of STT Phoenix, attached to 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt. and a Charleston, S.C. native. “The idea is to bring as many of us together as possible and show an appreciation for our partnership.”
Sporting events are another opportunity that STT Phoenix and the 6th IA Division have seized as chances to build trust and camaraderie. On Mar. 6, at Joint Security Station Constitution, Iraq, there was a game of volleyball between staff officers and NCOs of both armies. Considering the event was voluntary, the strong turn-out for the friendly competition after normal work hours was a testament to the strength of the camaraderie between forces.
“We've always appreciated the support and patience we have gotten from 6th IA Div.,” Duvall “we could not be prouder to be partnered with them.”