45th infantry faces menace in Baghdad missions

BAGHDAD " A recent explosion did not kill or injure any of Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Brigade, the Thunderbirds, but instead underscored the nature of the menace that lies outside the U.S. Embassy Annex compound where many of them reside.

Oklahoma's Thunderbirds will preside over a complex of forward operating bases, or FOBs, in the sprawling International Zone, which includes:
" many national monuments,
" palaces,
" Baath Party buildings and
" the U.S. Embassy Annex, which lies at the former palace of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The 45th, whose personnel will make up the Joint Area Support Group, will provide host services for the FOBs, ranging from providing supplies to security.

Freedom FOB "mayor" Capt. Tonia Toben, an Oklahoma City University graduate, said the mission is really "city management."

"Everything that happens on this FOB is the responsibility of the mayor's cell," Toben said. "Everything from changing a light bulb to the security we live under is our responsibility."

Brig. Gen. Myles Deering, commander of the 45th, said the work his brigade must do is "extremely complex," but that the unit has shown in the past that it can change with the mission and overcome obstacles.

"The adaptability we showed down there, if nothing else, showed ourselves what we have the capability of doing," Deering said. "I never heard a soldier complain, or state that they didn't want to do what they did down there." "Ben Fenwick

Read more  about Ben Fenwick's Thunderbird travels.

  • or