Skip to comments.Iraqi Army out patrolling Baghdad streets
Posted on 11/04/2009 3:33:17 PM PST by SandRat
"It feels great that we're here serving a purpose," said Cline, a Worcester, Mass. native, assigned to Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. "These kids can go to and from school without fear and that the community sees two organizations working together as one is a great thing."
Since arriving a few months ago in Aqur Quf, a rural area in northwestern Baghdad, U.S. troops have worked with IA Soldiers on a daily basis to help keep the area safe.
"It's a good thing that the U.S. forces support us and we work together and the community sees that," said IA Capt. Nomas Mohammed Hussein. "These people just need somebody to hear their concerns and understand them."
In order to do that, the American and Iraqi Soldiers patrol the area on foot, interacting with the people face-to-face and giving the locals a different perception.
"Many of the people think that when we dismount our vehicles, we just arrest people, but that is not true," explained Hussein. "We want to show them that now we are here to talk to them."
The Soldiers move from farmhouse to farmhouse allowing Hussein and the other IA Soldiers time to playfully ask the children their names and talk to the adults about the local security situation.
"These patrols are important because it's time for us to leave [Iraq] soon, so we let the IA do a lot more of the talking, like today," said 1st Lt. Mike Slapik, an infantry platoon leader from West Bridgewater, Mass.
As Hussein spoke at length to the men of the house at each location, Slapik stood back and listened to the conversations through his interpreter.
"Everybody's going to tell you its safe, but when you sit down with the people, they'll want to tell us more information," Slapik explained. "You have to stay and talk for an extended period of time to get a feeling for how they feel."
The Soldiers listened to concerns about clean water and jobs. Slapik explained that they cannot fix most of these problems immediately.
"It's good to show that we're not going to solve all their problems, but that they have to go through the local system they've established," added Slapik, stressing working within the system the local government has created.
Many of the local people come to the Soldiers with problems that need to be solved at their local governance level.
"It's a detective's job, basically," continued Slapik. "It's not a short turn-around; finding bad guys is a long legal process with multiple witnesses and arrest warrants issued through a judge. We like to make sure the local people see that process, so there are actually results."
The biggest thing that Slapik and his Soldiers want to show the local populations is that American forces are simply supporting the IA, as they are the ones in charge now.
One local area man has noticed a difference in the area thanks to this relationship.
"It's better when the U.S. and IA work together," said Ali Nafe Juwad. "The situation here was very bad a year ago, but it is better today because of the work the Americans and IA do together."
After tea is over, Slapik and his men wait on what Hussein wants to do next. The Iraqi captain broke into a thin smile as he ruffled the hair of a little girl, then shook hands and decided the patrol was finished.
After a day of meeting many familiar faces, the Soldiers climbed back into their vehicles, knowing that they left the area a little safer and with a little more information than they had a day before.
It’s about time. The best chance Iraq has to overcome it’s violent extremism, is to take 100% ownership and control over it’s internal security. The US military has accomplished it’s mission (defeated the Republican Guard and overthrown Hussein’s dictatorship). Now it’s time to remove U.S. troops from Iraq.
Passing out free ham sandwiches on Friday to celebrate.