Spartans build community relations in Abu Ghraib district
May 28, 2009
BAGHDAD - As conditions improve day by day in Iraq, Soldiers of the 591st Military Police Company "Spartans," 93rd MP Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, are building better relations within small communities by donating shoes, clothes and school supplies to children in the Abu Ghraib district while on patrol, here, May 20.
"Back in 2003, when I was first here, kids were not allowed to wave or even be around us. Now they are much more receptive," said Sgt. George Talkington, a native of Las Cruces, N.M., a military policeman assigned to the 591st MP Co. "I think they are more receptive because of the things we do here in the community."
According to Talkington, the Spartans play soccer with children at local schools and pass out candy, pens and pencils when on dismounted patrols. The Spartans show they genuinely care for the community by helping them as much as they can
"Just last week, a family of chicken farmers came to us saying all their chickens died and they had no money and couldn't pay their bills," Talkington said. "So we gave them our rations so they would at least have something to eat; it wasn't much but it was all we could do at the time."
Sometimes little things can mean a whole lot, Talkington added. Little acts of kindness can develop a lasting rapport with the community.
"Building strong relationships is exactly what we are trying to teach the Iraqi Police," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Romero, a native of San Antonio, with the 591st MP Co. "Strong relationships can be instrumental in preventing criminal activities and terrorist attacks in the community."
When community relations are built, people are more trusting and when trust is established, people are more willing to speak about different things in the community, added Talkington. The Spartans try to set examples of building friendships for the IP to follow by the community services that they provide. They try to show the IP how responsive the people in the community can be when connections built on trust are made by sharing with the people, said Talkington.
"We sometimes give cookies, candy and sodas to the IPs to disseminate to the community so they can see the effects kindness can have on the community," said Talkington, as he shook hands with a local child.
Little acts of kindness by the Spartans and IPs have developed a bond with the people of Abu Ghraib and in turn have created a more peaceful community.