In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Positive News from Iraq

PFC Cassandra Groce
133rd MPADBAYJI, Iraq

(30 November 2005) – The upcoming mid-December elections in Iraq will be a world-altering event. Iraq will have a democratically elected government. The “Rakkasans,” of Company C, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team have been working tirelessly to encourage Iraqis to vote.

Troops drive through villages with a loudspeaker vehicle playing Arabic messages, telling villagers when the elections begin. Capt. Chris Judge, Commander of Company C, walks among the civilians and talks to them about voting. It is a common site to see the commander, interpreter in tow, speaking with groups of people along the streets.

“The most important thing we can deliver to the Iraqis, as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is that they have a functioning, representative government,” said Judge.

A self-sustaining government isn’t all that Iraq needs, so Soldiers also meet with local Iraqi police to discuss their training and control of the area.

“In order for us to leave Iraq and give it any sort of stability, it’s going to be crucial that they [Iraqis] have a police force that the people believe in and one that has authority,” said Judge.“Sheiks are a legitimate source of authority for the Iraqis, so it is important that we have a good relationship with them,” said Judge.

In addition to encouraging the sheik to vote, Judge also discusses curfew changes and additional security measures being taken during the elections week. The curfew is changing from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We try to make it so that the only people out at night are the bad guys,” said Judge. “It makes it easier for us to target them.”

Judge and Sheik Adnon discussed different avenues to improve Iraqi people’s lives. Currently there is only one gas station in the immediate area.“I am willing to give you guys anything you need – any help,” said Adnon during the meeting.

Judge and Adnon set up a meeting for later in the week, including the city council. At the meeting, Judge can speak with all the village sheiks about the elections and the importance of their people voting.“Sheiks are very pragmatic, reality-based people,” said Judge. “They understand that we are going to be here for a while and that it benefits the Iraqi people to work with us.”

Over the next couple of weeks Soldiers will continue to travel through villages encouraging the people to vote.“When people have free will to do what they want, and they have representatives that enact what they want, countries take a different path,” said Judge.
Sgt. Ashly Rice
101st Sustainment Brigade

Q-WEST BASE COMPLEX, IRAQ -- Charlie Battery, 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment and Rakan Daille, local contractor, dedicated the Shukran Water Treatment Project in a ceremony Nov. 17.

Water serving the area outside of the Q-West southeast gate was unsatisfactory until Oct. 12, when the first fresh water pumped out of the Shukran Water Treatment Project. Work on the water treatment facility began before the active duty unit from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, arrived at Q-West. 2nd Lt. Jeremy Conner, platoon leader, and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Tanner, platoon sergeant, oversaw the project for the unit. 1st Lt. Phillip Kerber, battalion civil affairs officer and executive officer, handled the quality control of the project.

“The Shukran Water Treatment Facility pumps water from the Tigris across the desert to Al Hadr, the biggest town and the other four smaller towns, ," said Capt. James Mitchell, Charlie Battery commander. "The project cost approximately 83,000 dollars to complete.”

Improvements to the water treatment facility include two new pumps that push water to the smaller villages and two larger pumps that push water to Al Hadr. Six repaired filters and new concrete water tanks are also additions to the water facility.

“We have 43 personnel to assist in running the water treatment facility, with seven personnel who look over it constantly,” said Sabar Tali Muhammad, water treatment facility manager.

“[Everyone] worked well on the project, and I would like to give thanks to the Army, Mr. Ali, Sabar and to all of the people who helped out,” said Rakan Daille, contractor. "Before, dirty water was pushed out, but now clean water is pushed out to five villages.

"This project is only the beginning of the help Charlie Battery, has in store for the local area. The unit has future improvements in the works to help restore surrounding towns. “It is a wonderful experience to help rebuild our country,” said Daille.

A mixed class of Iraqi Army noncommissioned officers graduated from the NCO Academy in a ceremony at the MWR Theater Nov. 14 here.

“This was the first class [for which] we brought soldiers down from the north,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William Ulibarri, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The ethnic mix of Kurds and Iraqis did not matter to the soldiers, said Ulibarri.“They said, ‘We are all Iraqis, we have one enemy,’” said Ulibarri, who gave the keynote speech at the graduation ceremony.

The portion of the training that taught unarmed combat was the most important, said 1st Sgt. Hayawi, who was the distinguished honor graduate. He hopes to take the martial arts training back to his unit to pass on to his soldiers, he said.

Hayawi distinguished himself by defeating all comers, including Ulibarri, in the pugil stick pit during training.

“Iraq’s strength lies in diversity,” said Sgt. Maj. Walter Murrell, NCO Academy commandant, to the graduates. “Teamwork is fundamental to what your country is trying so hard to achieve.”

The graduates and assembled visitors watched a short video presentation highlighting weapons training, physical training, individual movement techniques, the obstacle course, first aid, entering and clearing a room and martial arts.

“You are the foundation with which to build effective small units,” said Ulibarri in his remarks after the video. “One thing that cannot be trained overnight is the warrior ethos and building the warrior spirit.”

Ulibarri paused to allow the interpreter to catch up, then added: “That training was not new to you. It was common to all honorable warriors.”After presenting awards to the honor graduates, including a “Leadership Award” and a “Physical Fitness Award,” Ulibarri presented each graduate with his certificate.

Cadre from 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, an active duty unit from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, run the NCO Academy in collaboration with Iraqi Army instructors.Murrell then presented Ulibarri with a special honor, an enlarged, framed picture of the sergeant major meeting his match in the pugil pit.


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