"Black Jack" leaders meet with IA counterparts
February 25, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq-American and Iraqi Soldiers intermingle in a sea of different uniforms. Translators move fluidly within the crowd, going from one group to the next. The Iraqis explain their unique situations to their American counterparts using hand gestures; the Americans nod eagerly in understanding. A signal is given and the crowd starts to move toward three long tables where each Iraqi Soldier sits next to his US partner.
This meeting at K-1, a military base in Kirkuk Province, on Feb. 5 was an opportunity for Iraqi Army officers from the 12th Iraqi Army Division to converse with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers with whom they will be working over the next year.
The partnership between the separate forces will begin at all levels within the brigade. 2nd BCT battalions will be paired with IA brigades; the brigade will be working with the 12th IA Division; and staff officers from the brigade will be partnered with their IA counterparts.
This was the first opportunity for many of the "Black Jack" Soldiers and IA officers to meet one another.
"Our purpose is to be here with you, enabling your efforts," said Maj. Christopher Norrie, the 2nd BCT S-3. "We are very excited about working with you."
"The 12th IA Division is in the lead in this area," said Norrie to the group of IA leaders. "Our purpose is to enable you."
Maj. Gen. Abdul Ameer, the division commander for 12th IA Division, sitting beside the commander of 2nd BCT, Col. Ryan Gonsalves-his partner-emphasized the importance of having strong lines of communication between the IA and coalition forces.
"There is one essential task and that is communication," said Norrie, emphasizing the two commanders' points.
"The key to all of this is communication; we are available 24 hours a day to answer questions and to help enable your efforts in the region," said Norrie.
For the Iraqis, this meeting was chance to outline what help they may need in this region.
"It is very important to meet each other and understand each other's problems," said Lt. Col. Khalil Al-Zawbai, the public affairs officer for the 12th IA Div.
"The Kirkuk region is special," said Khalil. "We have different ethnicities and languages, and it is important to understand this when planning for the future. Meetings like this help us figure out how we can give a helping hand to one another."