“Oregon Troops Learning to ‘just do things better’

An update from the Oregonian-

Oregon troops learning to ‘just do things better’

Posted by Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian August 21, 2009 20:11PM

 

Col. Dan Hokanson, commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, spoke to The Oregonian at midnight Friday from his office in southern Iraq:

Suicide bombers struck the Finance and Foreign ministries in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing 95 people and wounding at least 600.

How did that affect the brigade?

We were fortunate that no American soldiers were in that immediate area.

Randy L. Rasmussen/The OregonianThe 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team is setting up its headquarters and working with other Guard units on convoy security in southern Iraq, said commander Col. Dan Hokanson..

I feel so bad for the Iraqi people. It is a dynamic environment here, and we are working very closely with the Iraq army and police trying to help them be successful in securing their own country. Our success will be measured by whether it’s secure enough for us to leave.

 

What’s happened since arriving last month?

A week ago, we took over the (convoy security mission) for the whole southern and western part of the country. Geographically, it’s just a huge area. Since we arrived, our team has taken a warehouse and built our brigade headquarters, they went straight into cross-training with Texas.

Now we’re working with the other brigade here, from the Mississippi National Guard, to combine resources and share tactics and techniques about what’s been learned about the enemy, how to run convoys and just do things better. With a large number of troops leaving, we’re working on becoming more efficient so we can do as much with a lot fewer forces.

The brigade’s first casualty, Spc. Jeremy Pierce, lost a leg and a foot July 12 when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

There’s good news there. From the start Adj. Gen. (Raymond) Rees and I wanted every single soldier to go through combat lifesaving, which is usually only mandated for 10 to 20 percent of a unit. I made it mandatory for everyone, and 90 percent of folks have completed that, and we continue to train folks who showed up late.

The two soldiers in the vehicle with Jeremy clearly saved his life because they knew what to do. The ER doc told me that they did the tourniquets just the way they were supposed to, they saved his life. That alone made up for 3,000 soldiers we sent through that program.

READ MORE HERE > THE OREGONIAN

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