DHAMIYAH, Iraq – U.S. Soldiers assisted the Iraqi forces with security, while Iraqis in Baghdad exercised their democratic right to vote Jan 31.

“Our mission today is to allow the Iraqis to completely take the lead on this election process, and we will be out in sector for support if they need us,” said 1st Lt. Jeff Nelson, who serves as a platoon leader for the command security detachment, Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

With Iraq in the lead, Soldiers had specific and detailed guidelines to follow during these elections while out in sector.

“Do not interfere. Do not influence, and do not get in the way of today’s elections” said Col. John Hort, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., who serves as the commander of 3rd BCT.

The main support provided by the Soldiers was assisting the Iraqi Security Forces in northeast Baghdad to enforce a vehicle ban that was emplaced by the government of Iraq for a 24-hour period during the elections to minimize threats. The 24-hour ban was lifted about nine hours after it was emplaced due to improvement of security throughout the area.

“Things are going really well. Everyone seems to be in a pretty good mood, and there was a good turnout near the sites we stopped,” said Nelson, a native of Rockport, Texas.

The added security provided by the ISF and the Soldiers, allowed for a large number of Iraqis to place their vote for the first time since 2005.

“This is the best thing we can do [voting]. It is how we the people can change the government to help us,” said an Iraqi resident from the Adhamiyah District of Baghdad. “Democracy is good; we need democracy.”

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