Strathconas in Iraq (the Sequel)
Lt Adrian Droogers
On a great plain bisecting the Tigris River in the heart of what used to be ancient Mesopotamia, there sits a city with a rich history: Baghdad, Iraq. Its most recent history has seen challenges starting with the US invasion in 2003 and a turbulent two decades of civil war, sectarian violence, and political unrest. Centrally located inside Baghdad’s international zone, a small triangle of space known as Union 3, contains two vitally important missions: Operation INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR) and NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), which strive to address these challenges.
Although OIR’s main body is located in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, (shoutout to Major Gordon Elliott) the US lead mission keeps a small (700 people) TAC for its Commanding General in Union 3. OIR works with and through regional partners to militarily defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as Daesh.
NMI is a non-combat advisory, training, and capacity-building mission deployed to Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq. NMI advises and mentors the key leaders of the Iraqi Security Institutions and Security Forces. As part of Operation IMPACT (ROTO 7), a small team of 20 Canadians supported NMI including two Strathconas: Warrant Officer Stewart McLoughlin and Sergeant Adrian Droogers.
WO McLoughlin worked in NMI’s Joint Visits Bureau, a small team of three tasked with managing the myriad of visitors who frequented Union 3. The political nature of NMI makes Visits a key group within the HQ as the mission is routinely visited by Ambassadors, Chiefs of Defense, and other key leaders from troop-contributing nations and flanking organizations like the UN and EU.
Sgt Droogers spent his days within the J3 as the Ops WO. The key output of the J3 included ground moves in support of advisory activities, and together with a multinational movements team, Sgt Droogers oversaw nearly 3,000 ground moves conducted by two Force Protection companies containing soldiers from 4 different nations.
Working in Baghdad was a once in a lifetime opportunity for all those involved. Not only was it an opportunity to contribute to important missions in the Middle East, it was also a chance to showcase the depth of Strathcona expertise and the professionalism of Canadian NCOs in a multinational headquarters setting.