Leaders meet to discuss SoI future in Kirkuk province
January 22, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - Change is in the air in Kirkuk province as the Iraqi Army prepares to take responsibility of the Sons of Iraq, a group of almost 9,000 Iraqi men providing security in neighborhoods and at critical infrastructure locations across the province.
The Iraqi Army held an information briefing Jan. 19 at the Iraqi Army's K1 base in Kirkuk City to discuss the future of the Sons of Iraq in the province. Provincial government officials, police and army leaders met with the shaykhs who lead the SoI.
"My soldiers will be very pleased with this transition because they will be working with a group of Iraqis who are just as enthused as us to protect and bring peace and stability to our country," said Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Muhammed Al-Nassiri, 12th Iraqi Army Division command sergeant major.
Currently SoI are funded by U.S. forces. Starting April 1, the Government of Iraq will begin to pay the salaries of this group of patriots who help secure their neighborhoods. In order for this transition to run smoothly, SoI leaders will work closely with the IA to get all SoI members registered.
"In some areas, the Sons of Iraq know the people better than the IA does," said Maj. Matthew McGrew, Military Transition Team chief embedded with 46th Infantry Brigade, 12th IA Division. "So having their presence out there helps put a damper on violence in the area."
All of the SoI will transition to other security forces (Iraqi Army or Police), skilled-trade jobs, or government positions.
"Some will go into job training programs, and others will be absorbed into different government ministries," McGrew said. "So they're a little worried about who is going [where]."
According to Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter, deputy commanding general, operations, Multi-National Corps - Iraq, there are more than 90,000 Sons of Iraq proudly serving their nation. One of the goals of the GoI is to provide jobs for all of the SoI across Iraq, said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Mudhir Mawla, a member of the Implementation and Follow Up Committee for National Reconciliation.