Hawija, Iraq – The job of a deployed Soldier is hard… long hours and potential danger with every mission, but for one Reserve Soldier, he would not have it any other way.
For 25 year-old Staff Sgt. Michael D. Courier, the non-commissioned officer in charge of a three-person Psychological Operations Team at Forward Operating Base McHenry, being deployed is something he always wanted to do.
“I was excited when I got the deployment order,” said the Libertyville, Ill., native. “This is the 4th deployment I tried to get on and I finally made it.”
“This is what I joined to do. Some enjoy it; some don’t. Personally, I enjoy it. I am here serving my country.”
Courier’s team is part of the 310th Headquarters Support Company, 16th Psychology Operations Battalion from Fort Sheridan, Ill. The unit deployed to Iraq a little over a month ago after conducting pre-deployment training at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
While deployed, Courier’s team is assigned to 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at FOB McHenry.
As the leader of the team, Courier works with the battalion’s leadership to analyze, develop and distribute information used to help educate the local populace about the coalition and its efforts, as well as influence the residents against the insurgency.
“On a day-to-day basis, I coordinate with the battalion that we support to develop product, such as brochures, leaflets and scripts,” said Courier. “We try to empower the people, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police by encouraging them to take care of their own security; pushing for them to take control.”
On a recent mission, Courier and his team dropped off leaflets to the Hawija Joint Coordination Center, which acts as a 911-type of emergency response center.
While there, Courier met with the head of the JCC, Maj. Abdul Karim, to discuss the message of the product, which today was about reporting improvised explosive devices or insurgent activity.
“I will give these to all Iraqi Police stations [in Hawija] so they can give them to the people,” said Karim. “They will give these out so people will know more.”
Though this is Courier’s first deployment, he is no stranger to the Army. He has served for eight years now and plans to make a career of it.
“I have been in long enough and it works well enough for me,” reflected Courier. “I enjoy the structure of the military way of life.”
Courier started his military career on active duty as an infantryman. After his initial enlistment was complete, he took a small break from the military.
“I took about a year break from active duty and came back in [the Reserve] as a company armorer, working in supply,” said Courier. “The company staff felt I was being wasted in supply and brought me over to be a 37F, the PSYOP world.”
“The transition was smooth and simple, and I am much happier.”
Courier takes his military career seriously and understands the mission he and his Soldiers must accomplish to be successful.
“Our mission is to help get the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army up and running so they can handle all this stuff themselves,” said Courier. “I hope by the end of my tour we are supporting them instead of them supporting us.”
Though Courier just started working with the Soldiers under him in January, he has already won their respect.
“He takes care of us,” said Pfc. Greg B. Soucy. “He keeps the mission tempo at a good pace and he is strong tactically.”
Cpl. Armando Garcia has only known Courier since February but has seen enough of his character to know what type of NCO he is.
“SSG Courier is squared away,” affirmed Garcia. “He knows what he is talking about. He is good at his job and good at training us to our job as well as his.”
Courier said he has his own mission while he is here.
“Personally, I want to get home safe and to do my job well and make sure my guys come home,” said Courier.
When not deployed, Courier works for his hometown Home Depot in shipping and receiving. He is married and has six-month-old daughter.