"Bedouin Express" fosters relations in Dhi Qar province
May 27, 2009
DHI QAR PROVINCE, Iraq - In an operation dubbed "Bedouin Express," civil military operations team members from the 167th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and 287th Sustainment Brigade took to the roads to meet with Bedouin families here May 14.
The mission's goal, said Maj. Dale Coparanis, 167th CSSB CMO and a native of Manchester, N.H., is to foster community relations with the migratory tribesmen and share a safety message. To his knowledge, this is the first time that Coalition forces established formal relations with the Bedouins.
"In the past, the Bedouins were largely ignored because they were transients in the area. They'd stay in a place a few days, sometimes a few weeks, but never for long," he said. "The problem is that children of families camped by the roads run out when convoys pass by and try to get something from the Soldiers. That can be dangerous for them."
"We're telling (Iraqi) parents that Soldiers on convoys are not allowed throwing or handing out stuff to the kids. We hope they'll explain that to their kids and keep them from running to the trucks. In turn, we would make regular visits in the area to drop off fresh water, blankets, clothes and toys for the children," he said.
The CMO team, escorted by members of Charlie Company, 4th Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery, began the day not knowing what type of a reception they would receive. Driving past large concentrations of Bedouin camps, they finally chose an isolated group of about a half-dozen to make their first unannounced visit.
The Bedouins welcomed the convoy of Coalition Soldiers with warm greetings and curiosity.
"This first mission was a success," said Sgt. 1st Class. Alexander Parker, 287th Sust. Bde., CMO noncommissioned officer and a native of Topeka, Kan. He said they met with seven families and this trip allowed them to plan for future trips and continuing to meet with more families and repeat the process of giving safety messages.
"We can't meet with every Bedouin in the province, but we hope to meet with as many families as possible. Through the other Bedouins they come into contact with or through word of mouth, the ultimate goal is to spread our safety message as wide as possible in their communities."