COMBINED CHECKPOINT 3 — Liquor stores and Christmas trees might be the last two things you’d expect to see in Iraq, but the soldiers with Nightmare platoon have come to expect each when they patrol through Qara Qosh, Iraq.
A moderate Christian town, the U.S. soldiers walk the streets with Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers at least twice a week. Iraqi Christians flooded the town after the December bombings in Baghdad targeted the minority sect.
East of Mosul, the soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry live in one of eight combined checkpoints with Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers. The U.S. soldiers train with the Iraqis and Kurds and keep the peace along Kurdistan’s borders.
Since the start of Operation New Dawn and the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, the sight of U.S. troops patrolling Iraqi streets is becoming more rare. Nightmare platoon soldiers don’t face the same threats many did on previous Iraq deployments. Only a few IEDs have hit 2/7 convoys resulting in mostly concussions.
“The biggest threat we face now is rabid dogs,” said SFC Henry Eldridge, the platoon sergeant.
On Feb. 10, children ran up to the soldiers as residents walked out and waved. Soldiers did a double take at the Valentine’s Day flower arrangements set up outside Qara Qosh florists.
Known to the soldiers as Father Louise, 2nd Lt. Scott Kuhn, Nightmare platoon’s commander, along with Kurdish Capt. Idris Taib sat down and discussed how Christians had started to return to Mosul and Baghdad. Nervous about the U.S. Army’s impending departure, Father Louise said he hoped the U.S. would reconsider.
“I wish the Army would stay here to protect us,” he said.
Look for an upcoming feature in Army Times’ print edition on Nightmare platoon’s efforts to train up their Iraqi counterparts on land disputed by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.