Basing Iraqi Army and U.S. troops at an outpost in central Ghazaliya is a first in the Iraqi capital. Combat Outpost (COP) “Casino” has been operating for the past two weeks with Soldiers from Company C, Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.
Being based in Ghazaliya has seen its share of success stories. Just days after moving in, Cpl. Peter Callahan, a medic, saved the life of a 4-year-old girl who was brought in by her family with a pulse below 40 beats per minute. After checking her wounds and giving her initial aid, Soldiers evacuated the girl and her mother to a medical center for further treatment.
During a patrol in Ghazaliya, Spc. John Laweryson, driving a humvee, spotted suspicious looking vehicle. One of the men inside was acting strangely. “I thought either he was wounded, or trying to hide something,” Spc. Laweryson said. “The vehicle turned around like they were trying to slip away from our patrol and our guys blocked them. They then scattered on foot and dispersed into a building.”
When the vehicle was searched, a kidnap victim was found in the trunk of the car with his hands bound together. He was taken to the outpost. After two days, his father arrived to take him home in a very emotional reunion.
Combat Outpost Casino is surrounded by concrete barriers and includes six houses. Three of the houses belong to the Iraqi Army and three to U.S. forces. A large field is also enclosed within the perimeter of barriers, eventually to serve as a parking lot for vehicles.
Living conditions at the outpost are Spartan. Soldiers sleep in crowded rooms with no heating. There is no running water or sewage system, but the troops built outhouses which they service themselves.
In addition to combat patrols, Soldiers daily travel to Camp Liberty to conduct their own logistical missions, such as refueling and supplying food.
The combat outpost is a work in progress, waiting for more materials to finish the construction completely; however, it is fully operational. Security is provided by Soldiers from the rooftop throughout the day and the majority of the Soldiers of Company C spend their time conducting logistical operations and combat patrols.