|TALL AFAR, Iraq, Oct. 17, 2005 — U.S. Army paratroopers from the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, provided support to the Iraqi people during the country's constitutional referendum here, Oct. 15.
"The [mission of the] 82nd Airborne Division, specifically the [2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment], was to provide for a safe and secure environment and to promote a conducive environment for the citizens of greater Sarai (a section of the city), who would come out an exercise their patriotic duty," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Gibson, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
|"I'm very proud of the paratrooper, that in concert with the Iraqi security forces, helped make history. I'm also very proud of the Iraqi people who took a stand against terrorism yesterday."
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Gibson
With the help of Iraqi Security Forces, the "White Falcons" successfully completed their mission.
Election day went by without any instances of violence in the paratrooper-controlled sector of the city.
"We let [the Iraqi Security Forces] take the ball and they ran with it," said U.S. Army Spc. Lucas J. Mills, an infantryman with the "White Falcons."
In the battalion's sector, the Iraqi government utilized three polling sites, which the paratroopers assisted in keeping secure through out the day.
"They provided area security essentially denying the enemy the ability to provide
direct... fire on polling sites," Gibson said.
"The Iraqi Security Forces had the site security and our forces were conducting area security to ensure that the enemy's freedom of movement was denied and that he did not have the ability to provide direct fire weapons to the election sites," Gibson said.
The security efforts paid off for the Iraqis.
"Over 8,000 people voted in our zone," Gibson said. "Both Sunnis and Shiites had very good turnouts during this election."
Paratroopers in the battalion are partially attributing the high number of voters to the security efforts put forth by the Coalition Forces.
"They knew we were going to protect them if they went to vote," Mills said.
Mills, who also provided security for Iraq's inaugural elections, noticed a difference in the voters' attitude.