Soldiers keep an eye on Mosul
Story and photos by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq — The Base Defense Operations Center at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq, acts as the eyes and ears of the base and surrounding areas, to ensure the safety of everyone within its walls.
"Anything that happens on this (COB), we deal with," said Spc. Matthew Emmert, a BDOC battle desk Soldier with the Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Knoxville, Tenn., native.
Emmert said his team provides oversight of all entry control points on the base, as well as the guard towers. It uses a number of cameras to watch the areas and constantly scan the base for anything out of the ordinary, he said.
The teams work in shifts to provide 24-hour security, and even take their meals at their desks so they are always ready, said Emmert.
"It's good when it's a slow day because that means nothing's wrong," he said.
The RFS Soldiers arrived in Mosul in early March, just in time for the elections.
"It was a big deal and everyone was on edge, but nothing really happened," said Emmert.
In addition to watching over the base and dispatching force protection measures, the BDOC Soldiers track all convoys in the area and manage requests for air support.
"We're all multi-trained, so we can step in if someone is gone," said Spc. Clayton Pillow, a radio telephone operator for the BDOC and a Woodbury, Tenn., native.
Pillow said he mans the radio and keeps track of every convoy that leaves the COB, while simultaneously logging any significant events on the convoy and on the base.
Pfc. Josh Shows, a radio telephone operator with the BDOC and a Hattiesburg, Miss., native, said the radio logs assist the intelligence officers and convoy commanders with making changes to operations in order to stay safe.
"It's really important that all the information we get is logged," he said.
Shows said he has been in Mosul at the BDOC for eight months and extended his deployment to assist the RFS Soldiers.
"I think our BDOC is one of our strongest assets," said Maj. Tommie Stevens, the executive officer with the Regimental Fires Squadron and the mayor of COB Marez.
Stevens, a Sherwood, Tenn., native, said the team is essentially running a tactical operations center and the BDOC at the same time, and its skills are helping it make the base safer every day.
"We've built a solid team based on skill sets," he said. "I have to brag about these guys; they're doing a super job."
Pfc. Josh Shows, a radio telephone operator with the Base Defense Operations Center, Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Hattiesburg, Miss., native, communicates with a convoy commander March 31 at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.