The Elections: Step 3, Protect the Voting Sites

Article excerpt

As dawn broke four days before the Iraqi elections, Humvees from 3rd Platoon (Blue Platoon), Company B, 2nd Battalion, 63rd Armor (2-63 Armor), lined up in the pond-sized puddles of Forward Operating Base Scunion's "North 40," which is a large open patch of ground just inside the base's primary gate. The North 40 had been flooded by rain during the previous week, and soldiers stood in the mud, gulping eggs and bacon from Styrofoam dining facility take-out boxes while they waited for members of the Support Platoon to finish tying down loads on their trucks. The two Support Platoon palletized loading system trucks were hauling concrete Jersey barriers, spools of concertina wire and a tactical forklift.

It was the beginning of a major final phase leading up to the elections-hardening the voting sites and providing as much protection as possible for the Iraqi army and police forces that would take position at each site to provide direct security for the elections.

"We have to fortify the election sites so the Iraqi security forces can have a secure position, and the people who go there to vote can feel safe in the first free elections they have ever known," explained 1st Lt. Tony Giberti, the Blue Platoon leader, as his Humvee splashed out the gate.

Blue Platoon had seven polling places in its area of responsibility outside Baqubah, most of them village schools.

The site-hardening mission had to be started at the last possible time to minimize tipping off their locations to anti-Iraqi forces, and hundreds of American line platoons were launching similar missions all over Iraq at thousands of voting sites that morning in the final countdown to the elections. …