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Oklahoma's National Guard soldiers cope with new mission


Ben Fenwick March 6th, 2008

CAMP BUCCA, IRAQ " Over and over last summer, members of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade, the Thunderbirds, sweated, trained and drilled the basics of what they expected their mission in Iraq to be: ...

Bucca
st1:country-region>, many of these same soldiers are indeed face to face with suspected insurgents " with the soldiers acting as prison guards.

 

The men and women of Oklahoma's 45th often find themselves in a guard tower, staring down into a razor wire-fitted compound where the suspected insurgents are detainees, or escorting the detainees through a gate, or performing other duties they might have found in a typical Oklahoma locked-down facility.

 

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Lt. Col. David Jordan, commander of Oklahoma's 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery, said his unit's mission is far different from that for which it was trained, as well. His immediate command staff is tasked with providing support and logistics to the camp, a town of about 30,000 people, including 20,000 detainees.

 

"The line units, the firing batteries, they are part of the guard units down in the (compound)," Jordan said. "The vast majority of the battalion is down there doing detainee operations. There are 30 of us responsible for all of the life support on the base itself."

 

Jordan diffuses any frustrations about commanding a logistics mission instead of an artillery mission with an age-old technique: He jokes about it.

 

"When the Army wanted this thing done right, they sent in the artillery," Jordan said. "I tell people all the time, this is just like Can

 
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