DHI QAR PROVINCE, Iraq - Key leaders from the 287th Sustainment Brigade enjoyed a lunch with Shaykh Ali Mohamed Al Manshed of the Al Ghizi tribe in Al Manshed village May 21.

Ali's mudhif, or tribal council hall, was the setting for the luncheon. The air conditioned tent boasted marble floors, seven crystal chandeliers, a collection of Arabian coffee urns and religious artifacts at one end. Shaykh Ali directed the traffic flow as Soldiers entered the tent and workers hurried to hand out tea to the guests.

Conversation ranged from provincial elections to the drought.

"The elections are a good thing for my country," Ali said. He was concerned about the drought though; it has seriously impacted the Euphrates' water levels, which in turn has impacted the canals and farming. He also discussed the possibilities of improving farm roads in the future.
"These meetings are essential to keeping lines of communication open and showing tribal leaders that we're (Coalition forces) ready to do what is necessary to make the transition a successful one," said Lt. Col. Clint Moyer, 287th Sust. Bde. civil military operations chief. "These meetings allow us to get to know leaders on a personal level, see what they're doing for their communities and what, if any, assistance may be needed."

Conversation slowed when Ali's staff members laid out lunch for the guests; a meal of lamb on mounds of rice, whole baked fish, vegetable stew, flat bread and fruit placed on a tablecloth in the center of the mudhif. Shaykh Ali directed his guests to eat and ensured that everyone had what they needed and were enjoying themselves.

After lunch was over, Col. Robert Schmitt, 287th Sust. Bde., commander, presented Ali with a certificate of appreciation.

"I want to thank you for what you're doing for your country," Schmitt said. "I look forward to continuing our friendship and creating positive change within the community."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16