Capt. Michael Breaux is following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father by serving in the Army. Breaux’s grandfather served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His father served in the Army in the 1970s.
Breaux continues their legacy of service by helping the Army pave the way for Operation New Dawn. The military’s new mission in Iraq officially will begin Sept. 1.
Breaux, currently deployed to Iraq, is assigned to Task Force 2-7 Infantry, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“His job since he started was the officer in charge of the Company Intelligence Support Team,” 2-7 Infantry, 1st Brigade public affairs officer Capt. Curt Schulteis said. “They assist in gathering information across the battlefield that helps us decide on future missions.”
Schulteis said Breaux is now officer in charge of a joint operations center. In his new role, Breaux interacts with division- and brigade-level Iraqi staff officers in planning combined operations.
“This is our way ahead for the future into Operation New Dawn,” Schulteis said.
Breaux described the joint operations center as a hub for communicating information between the task force and supporting units and Iraqi partner units. He serves as a primary contact person and ensures information gets to the appropriate place.
The 25-year-old captain said overcoming cultural and language differences between American military personnel and the Iraqi security forces can be challenging.
“It’s more difficult than I thought it would be,” Breaux said. “The Iraqi army sometimes looks at things differently than we do. There’s some friction, but we work together to resolve issues.”
He said sometimes the Iraqis may have a word or phrase in Arabic that cannot be translated into English. Still, such problems are often resolved quickly and easily, Breaux said.
“I speak some Arabic but not enough to carry on a conversation,” he said. Breaux, a Lake Charles, La., native who has Cajun relatives on his mother’s side, speaks fluent French.
“Like French, Arabic is a rapidly spoken language,” he said. Breaux said he has learned some Arabic words but has a hard time following an entire conversation.
“By the time I catch a word I know, the conversation has moved on,” he said.
Although Breaux has been in the Army for eight years, this is his first deployment to Iraq.
“It’s the luck of the draw, I guess,” he said. “I spent the first six of my years in the military between the Army Reserve and Army National Guard. I have friends who are on their second or third deployment.”
Breaux said after questioning his friends on their past tours in Iraq, he concluded this deployment for 1st Brigade soldiers is the smoothest by far.
“We’re doing well to be perfectly honest,” he said. “You realize how far they’ve come and how much the Iraqis can do on their own. It gives you pride to see what you’re able to do in order to help them. The Iraqis have come a very long way and they still have a little ways to go. They’re hungry to learn, to be better soldiers so they can provide a safer more secure future for themselves.”
The young officer said he keeps busy at the joint operations center and hasn’t had a lot of time to follow breaking news from home. Still, he thinks it may take years for the people of Louisiana to recover from the Gulf oil spill.
“It’s very unfortunate. The coastline and the fishery industry is a major part of Louisiana,” Breaux said. He added the disaster has negatively impacted people’s livelihoods and culture as well as having damaged the environment and injured wildlife.
“It’s a part of who you are growing up,” Breaux said.
The captain said he looks forward to seeing his family when he redeploys in December, and he anticipates enjoying “down home,” Cajun cooking.
“I miss the food from back home,” Breaux said. “There’s nothing better than Cajun or Creole food. They try to do some diversity with the food here. They may try to make jambalaya here, but it’s nothing like back home. But that’s me being biased.”
Editor’s note: The following is the third installment in a series profiling the men and women of the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division now deployed to Iraq.