BAGHDAD -- Col. Michael Kershaw, commander of the 2nd Combat Brigade, presided over an end of deployment ceremony at brigade headquarters Friday morning here at Camp Striker, Iraq.

Frank has worked beside Kershaw since the 10th Mountain Division arrived in Iraq this past September. Those employed as interpreters for the Americans in this country go by their first name for security reasons.

This standing-room only function seemed a welcome diversion from the search for the two remaining missing soldiers from Patrol Base Inchon, which has consumed this brigade for nearly two weeks.

"Frank has been at my side whenever I had dealings with the Iraqi people," said Kershaw. "He didn't just translate, he interpreted the conversation, he told me what they really were saying, what their personal feelings were, how they regarded the American military presence in their towns."

After the ceremony he asked this reporter to accompany him back to his office. While standing in front of the map of the Brigade AO (area of operations) he pointed out sectors of Sunni influence and areas more dominated by various Shia tribes.

"The lines of separation between the main religious sects of this district are not that distinct," he said. "In many cases, there is greater divisiveness between people from the various Shia tribes, than between Sunni and Shia. A number of local residents from both sects, that I've gotten to know have intermarried. Others have been friends for years, and in many cases served together in the pre-invasion Iraqi Army of Saddam Hussein."

Kershaw is hoping that this very thorough house-to-house search of a large sector of the Shakaryah Triangle will not negatively affect his brigade's pacification work here. He knows that there is no chance of victory while battling an insurgency if the population involved cannot be kept on your side.

"We're being as light-handed as possible," said Kershaw, "but we are going to find out what's happened to our men."

He thinks the tribal people of Iraq will understand the efforts of the Americans to rescue their soldiers; because ultimately, if they were in his position, they would act in precisely the same manner.

The most recent update from the Shakariyah Triangle has Co. B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment (Strykers), which is temporarily attached to the 2nd BCT, locating a giant arms cache complex and explosive factory in the area known as "Fish Farms," which is just south of the 2nd BCT's AO and close to the Euphrates River. After thoroughly searching this complex for evidence of the two soldiers from the 2nd BCT who have been missing since May 12, the cache was destroyed by explosive ordinance personnel.

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