Friday, March 02, 2007

Perspective: U.S. night patrols in Iraq require balancing act

HAWIJAH, Iraq -- With the curfew in effect, the dogs had full run of the streets. Strays darted from behind piles of garbage and cinder blocks to bark at the convoy of Humvees that lumbered through the narrow alleys.

The soldiers of the Hawaii-based 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment found the assigned street for the evening. They exited the vehicles and shot glances at the darkened rooftops of the squat houses before they began knocking on doors.

Night patrols are a balancing act for the soldiers based at Forward Operating Base McHenry. They question men of military age and search for weapons while handing out care packages and chatting up residents. In each Iraqi they meet, U.S. soldiers look for signs of friend or foe.

On this night, the Iraqis, in turn, also seemed to be deciding what to make of these soldiers who crowded into their homes in the middle of the night with guns and gifts, who smiled at their children and stared down the men.

Read the rest at Stars and Stripes