Dutch, Italian Forces Keep Watch On Tallil
Troops from the 28
countries that have committed forces to support the international
coalition in Iraq have begun assuming more and more duties. Dutch
and Italian forces are working together to provide internal
airfield security at this air base in southern Iraq.
The Dutch conduct roving patrols, while the Italians man
checkpoints and provide a quick-reaction force for the
"Although we have different responsibilities, our area of
responsibility is the same," said Italian Master Sgt. Gianni
Pitzalis, who works in force security. The quick-reaction force
responds to immediate calls, while the roving patrols conduct
regular sweeps of the area. "We share the same areas, but we don't
patrol together because of the language barrier," Pitzalis
Dutch Air Force Capt. Wim Verschragen, officer in charge of the
Dutch security force, said, "Even though both the Italians and our
forces speak some English, during training for emergency response
the soldiers immediately began working in their own language."
As members of NATO, both Dutch and Italian soldiers follow NATO
procedures. Some previously have worked with other NATO forces.
"This is my third deployment," said Dutch Army Staff Sgt. Roy
Thomas, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Dutch security
patrols. "In Bosnia, I worked with the English, in Kosovo the
Germans, and now (in Iraq) I'm working with Americans and
Thomas and the other
soldiers on the Dutch security force are members of one of
Holland's oldest artillery battalions, the 11th Horse Battalion.
They usually man a Palladin, a self-propelled 109 mm howitzer.
"Every deployment is different," Thomas said. "My soldiers have
learned what to do for airfield security. In case of an intruder,
we have a machine gun and the Italians have their machine gun. And
when we catch intruders, we turn them over to the American security
No intruders have approached the airfield yet, and the role of
the coalition force reinforces but does not duplicate security
provided by Americans in the area. "We're glad they are here," said
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Nollee Ciballas. "I've learned how to
interact with different countries, and it's good to see America
work with other nations."
Some Air Support As Well
In addition to providing airfield security, both Dutch and
Italian forces have their own helicopters at the airfield. Their
helicopter missions are similar in scope, and include medical
evacuations as well as force protection and security.
"Force protection is integrated with the United States here in
Tallil as well as in An Nasiriyah," said Italian helicopter pilot
Capt. Sismondini Diego. "Working with the coalition is a great
opportunity for all of us."
(ANN extends a special thanks to Staff Sgt. Ward Gros, 143rd
Transportation Command, USA, southern Iraq.)