Dagger Brigade Soldiers seek to build community ties
June 30, 2009
BAGHDAD - A crater left by an improvised explosive device in the road leading into the village of Khadir is a stark reminder to the Soldiers of Company D, 1st Battalion, 63rd Combined Arms Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division that there are still insurgents in the area.
The IED attack last week, which did not harm any Soldiers or vehicles, did not deter the Dragon Soldiers of the 63rd CAB from continuing their mission to improve security and the quality of life for Iraqis when they patrolled the village with Iraqi Security Forces here, June 22.
The Soldiers walked through the market area of Khadir, a small village near the banks of the Euphrates River in the Abu Ghuraib area west of Baghdad, distributing pamphlets that advertised micro-grant projects. The subject of the pamphlets asked Iraqis for tips about the recent IED on the road leading into Khadir.
"In this region here, we are trying to get the local populace involved by asking them to help rebuild their country instead of placing IEDs," said 1st Lt. Kevin Mussman, a tank officer assigned to Co. D, 63rd CAB, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. "This area has had some historical cache sites and there have been previous IED strikes."
Mussman and the Soldiers of Co. D walked along the road, shaking hands with store owners as they passed out pamphlets.
"We are trying to let them know we can help with micro-grants," said Mussman, a native of Las Cruces, N.M. "As long as we follow up, they will hopefully realize we are here to help them."
Mussman said the Iraqis in Khadir expressed interest in working with Coalition forces to get a medical clinic open again, and also expressed opposition to insurgent activity. He said they were satisfied with the security provided by local Iraqi Police and the Iraqi Army.
Mussman said he hoped a continued presence and patrols in the area would help build a better relationship with the Iraqi people and discourage insurgents from attempting to disrupt the peace.
"This will deter any enemy activity by saying, 'hey, we're here, we're watching,'" said Mussman.
As Soldiers move out of Baghdad and into rural areas like the village of Khadir, there will be new opportunities to build on relationships with the Iraqis, relationships that will reap peace in the region.
"The benefits of patrols are showing the civilians there is a [CF] presence and it's important for the civilians to want to help their own country," said Mussman.