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Minnesota National Guard
Steinmetz and Demere - Combat Patrol Teammates

AL HABBANIYAH, Iraq - Brent Steinmetz of Mahnomen, Minn, and Christopher Demere of Bejou, Minn, are providing a safe and secure environment for their fellow Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 136th Combined Arms Battalion based in Moorhead, Minn, Marines, and the Iraqi people
Every other day, the pair departs from a Marine Corps logistics camp near here on combat patrols in up-armored Humvees to ensure that the area is secure for operations on the camp as well as villages in the region

Both also are members of the battalion's Company A, based in Detroit Lakes, Minn, and Bemidji, Minn The company's mission of camp security also includes performing entry control point and observation post operations

"For the most part, (this camp) is a safe place to be," said Demere, who is a specialist and has been in the Guard for two and a half years "We have good security around here I guess there are no worries on my part"

Demere is a gunner and driver Steinmetz, a corporal who has been in the Minnesota Army National Guard for three and one half years, is a driver and gun truck commander

When Steinmetz, slams the heavy door of the Humvee shut to kick off a mission, his responsibilities include navigation, coordination and leadership of his crew that consists of himself, a driver and gunner

I'm responsible for the guys in my truck," he said "I'm doing my part to keep my guys safe"

As a gunner, Demere sits on a padded swing seat in the Humvee's turret that allows him to pivot himself and weapons system 360 degrees When he is in the lead vehicle, he keeps "eyes on" directly in front of him at all times He also signals other convoys or Iraqi traffic with the use of red flag to pull off the side of the road to deter a possible escalation of force incident

If his team does stop a vehicle or vehicles, he also pulls security on the vehicle

Both credit their several-month long training at Camp Shelby, Miss, for instilling confidence in doing their mission

But unlike the training exercises that can have distractions, Demere said he knows incidents in Iraq are "real"

You're pretty nervous," he said "I guess you're a lot more alert too"

"Like Demere said when you're in a training environment, you've got training on your mind," said Steinmetz "Here, I'm zeroed in You focus in on what exactly you're doing and not everything else It has to be that way"

One way also to make Iraq safer

Written by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood, 1/34 BCT PA

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