Camp Falcon / Camp Al-Saqr

FOB/Camp Ferrin-Huggins, Baghdad

Overview

In mid-September 2004, as part of an Army-wide effort to give its facilities around Baghdad friendlier connotations, and try to resolve the issue of constantly-changing facility names, Camp Ferrin-Huggins reverted back to its previous name of Camp Falcon, with the Arabic translation "Camp Al-Saqr".

By late January 2004 engineers from the 1st Armored Division were midway through an $800 million project to build half a dozen camps for the incoming 1st Cavalry Division. Army planners expected to finish by 15 March 2004. The new outposts, dubbed Enduring Camps, will improve living quarters for soldiers and allow the military to return key infrastructure sites within the Iraqi capital to the emerging government. Plans called for the camps to last between five to 10 years, possibly even longer. Moving to the outskirts of town will allow Iraqi police and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to take a lead role in the city's security. At Camp Falcon, on the southern outskirts, a base camp for 5,000 was planned.

The 1st Cavalry Division's 5th Brigade Combat Team assumed the mission of securing Baghdad's Al Rashid District from the 1st Armored Division's Division Artillery Combat Team at a transfer-of-authority ceremony 06 April 2004. Col. Stephen Lanza was the 1st Cavalry's 5th Brigade Combat Team, or Red Team, commander. Since arriving in Iraq a year ago, the 1st Armored's DivArty Combat Team had completed a number of different missions. The DIVARTY Combat Team, the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, led the force protection package at Baghdad International Airport. Later, the unit set up a counter-battery center to combat the mortar and rocket fire into the airport and 1st Armored's headquarters. In January 2004, they moved to Forward Operating Base Falcon. The 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment and Task Force 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment were later added to the DIVARTY Combat Team and assumed responsibility of the city's Al Rashid District.

Iraq is a strange place for most Soldiers. From the hot, dry heat to the ever-present dust that settles everywhere. The day in the life of a deployed troop doesn't always include all the right ingredients to make him comfortable, but luckily there are always some things he can do to make himself feel more at home. There sometimes is a special area he goes to enjoy his worldly pastimes. It may be the basketball court: possibly the Internet cafe, or perhaps a quick snack at Subway. Some places of recreation are found in less likely areas. One such area lies outside in a corner of the Headquarters Company barracks next to the 5th Brigade Combat Team headquarters on Camp Ferrin Huggins. An I-beam lies on the cracked asphalt; its edges coated in wax. A dismounted handrail put in place by sandbags stands 10 inches off the ground. The sight might confuse bystanders, until its architects arrive. The sun begins to set and four friends convene with weapons slung as they cling onto wheeled boards before slapping them on the pavement, and this assembly of random objects begins to look more like a crude excuse for a skate park.

Previous construction work at the Forward Operating Base Ferrin-Huggins site had been done fast and cheap. Soldiers later were assigned with the renovation of a series of concrete housing facilities that had been previously hurriedly constructed by the Iraqis. They were constructed so fast, in fact, that the landfill they were built on had not been properly compacted and allowed settlement time. Subsequently, after the buildings went up and weathered the rainy season, the floors gave, breaking all the water systems. The soldiers had to replace those systems and as well as restore the buildings, with Army engineers also providing input to contracting.

As of late December 2004, Camp Falcon was also home to a spacious PX. For Thanksgiving 2004, meals were provided for 3,000 by Camp Falcon's canteen and kitchen staff.

During their time at Camp Falcon, Assault and Obstacle Platoon of Company B, 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division has 'enjoyed' much on-the-job training. A prime example is the installation of a sewage system, a task usually taken on by civilians or combat-heavy engineers. “We’ve been working this sewage system for a month,” Bronx, New York, native Staff Sgt. Greg Grady explained. “We are all combat engineers and this is outside of our job description. I just happen to have civilian experience in surveying. We came out here and did it all. We surveyed the land, I drew out the plans.” The sewage pipeline will allow the entire camp access to Baghdad’s main sewage grid, eliminating the need for the current septic tank system, as well as the cost that comes with periodical pumping. With a total of seven weeks work, the pipe system was expected to be complete late January 2005.

The project is just one of many the Assault and Obstacle Platoon had taken on from Forward Operating Base Falcon’s base operations. The platoon has built and demolished walls, supervised the construction of barracks, and made an array of other structures on post. However, from time to time to the soldiers have got to indulge in the job they joined the Army for. “Once we are done with this we will go on to something else. Maybe back to patrols,” Grady said. “We don’t mind doing the patrols. Infantry is like second nature to us.”

Camp Falcon uses multilayered defenses with high-walled perimeters and lookout towers to deter any threat. Like any military fortification, however, the gate relies heavily on manpower – U.S. and Iraqi manpower. Soldiers back at Camp Falcon need to be in full uniform and body armor before they leave the company building because of mortar fire.
Camp Graceland

Camp Graceland is the US National Guard side of Camp Falcon. It is a United States Military installation that housed the 2175th Military Police Company's quarters, HHD 168th Batallion, and is located 20 minutes south of downtown Baghdad, Iraq, right off Highway 8.

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