Mississippians, Iraqi Army partner to protect Q-West water supply
November 5, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Members of the Mississippi Army National Guard consulted with elements of the Iraqi Army at the Al-Qayyarah pump house Oct. 26.
Leaders from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms from Hernando, Miss., and their counterparts in 1st Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Brigade, reviewed the Iraqi Army's security measures for the Tigris River site.
"The pump house is a critical facility in the province because it is the primary source of raw water to Al-Qayyarah and to Q-West," said Lt. Col. Kerry Goodman, commander of the 2/198th CAB and native of Meridian, Miss. "The 26th Brigade, Iraqi Army, has worked closely with the Q-West force protection company to provide security."
1st Lt. Salah Joad, commander of 1st Company, agreed that the mission is vital, noting that his soldiers enjoyed it.
"We have to protect the pump house because it helps sustain our operations and the local people in the region," Joad said through an interpreter. "My men like the mission because the pump house has plentiful water, reliable electricity and scenic landscapes. They also can visit Al-Qayyarah when they have time off."
Capt. Drew Clark, Q-West force protection company commander, said he was impressed with the 26th Brigade's performance.
"I've worked closely with the 26th Brigade element here since they took over the mission about a month ago," said Clark, a native of Madison, Miss. "The last Iraqi unit was not serious about this mission. There were times when I had to station my Soldiers here because there was no security element, and we always had to man the towers and entrance when we came to the pump house. The 26th Brigade committed four times the number of troops here, and they are eager to do the job."
The senior noncommissioned officer of 1st Company, Sgt. Major Fadil Abbas, said that he visits the pump house regularly to inspect his men and address any needs they might have.
"When I visit, I conduct a hygiene inspection of the area and living quarters. I inspect the weapons, check the towers and see if my men need supplies," Abbas said through an interpreter. "I tell them how important it is to protect the water supply for the Iraqi people, and they make sure terrorists cannot take over the pump house."
The senior noncommissioned officer in A Company, 1st Sgt. John L. Beasley, native of Henando, Miss., said he respected the 26th Brigade's professionalism.
"The 26th is more engaged than the last unit," Beasley said. "They are more professional and enthusiastic about the mission. Their troops are always in uniform and alert, which is a huge improvement."
2nd Lt. Hassan Kalid, a platoon leader with 1st Company, said the Mississippians were good partners.
"I like working with the Soldiers from Mississippi," said Kalid. "They are friendly, hardworking Soldiers, and they welcomed us with a good meal."
The A Company Soldiers celebrated the handover of defensive operations by hosting a cook out, said Clark.
"It was essential that we conducted a thorough battle handoff with the Iraqi Army to ensure that they understood the mission," said Clark. "The initial training took only a day. The next day, they were ready to assume responsibilities, and we couldn't have been happier. That was worth celebrating with a Mississippi cook out."