Sharqat communities receive helping hand from IP, Wolfhounds
June 24, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -The problems of living on the outskirts of many cities in Iraq often surface when necessities become scarce-when water supplies are limited and food is not easily found. Families in these remote areas feel the negative impact the most.
Sharqat Iraqi Police and Soldiers of Co. B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division reached out to the remote villages of Al Khanuga and Msahly near Sharqat in the northern tip of Salah ad-Din province, June 1-2, in an effort to provide essential supplies and to foster the confidence of the local communities with their government.
During the mission, the Wolfhounds adopted the Arabic phrase "Masadat Yad" which means "helping hand" to symbolize the intent of the operation.
The overall concept is called "warm basing." Soldiers go out to the remote areas of the province to conduct humanitarian assistance missions for several days. Once on the ground, Soldiers set up a temporary location and visit several villages in the local area.
Throughout those days, Iraqi and Coalition forces check on the status of families, schools and other important aspects in the remote communities.
The combined missions are intended to provide a vital link to connect the villages with the district and provincial leadership.
"Our primary focus was to reassure the families that they had not been forgotten, that we are truly concerned about their well being-that we are focusing on improving the lives of the families who live in the rural areas of Sharqat," said Capt. Jason Honeycutt, commander, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt.
Many of the most distant villages have not been visited in some time, according to Honeycutt.
"The residents were extremely receptive and pleased to see us," said Sgt. 1st Class Brad Taylor, 2nd platoon sergeant, Co. B. "The first village we stopped at, we met a local leader who told us that he hadn't been visited by Iraqi Security and Coalition forces for many months. We dropped off water, sugar, rice, chai tea and radios so the families could listen and receive information about our procedures on the road-the leader was also able to tell us the additional supplies his village needed."
From the warm-basing operations, Iraqi Police and Coalition forces listen to the concerns and gain an understanding of the immediate needs of the surrounding villages. The common threads have been water projects and road repairs.
"They are having the roughest time with water due to various factors-the villages receive only two hours of water every two to four days due to the size of the pipes that pump the water, and the roads that lead to the river source are unusable," said Taylor.
"A lot of the villages have projects that are already underway-in one of the villages a school had just been built, but other primary and secondary schools needed additional repairs," added Taylor. "We just needed an opportunity to know where we could offer our help, we have it-now we can provide the assistance."
In the Sharqat villages, construction has also been brought to the forefront as a need of the people.
"A bridge was requested to be built in one of the villages because in the winter time one of the wadi (dry stream beds) fills up with water and creates a blockade separating one village from the other-the locals want this bridge to be built to give their children a direct way to get to school," said Honeycutt, noting that children may not attend school if they can't cross a bridge.