Mississippians, Iraqi Army partner to protect Q-West water supply
November 9, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Members A Company, 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms Brigade out of Hernando, Miss., met with their Iraqi counterparts in 1st Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Brigade to review the IA's security measures for the Al-Qayyarah pump house located on the Tigris River.
"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 a Meridian, Miss., native. "The 26th Brigade, Iraqi Army, has worked closely with the Q-West force protection company to provide security."
First Lt. Salah Joad, commander of 1st Co., said 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 Madison, Miss., native. "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 Co., Sgt. Major Fadil Abbas, said 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," Abbas said through an interpreter. "I inspect the weapons, check the towers and see if my men need supplies. 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."
First Sgt. John L. Beasley, the senior noncommissioned officer in A Co. and a Henando, Miss., native, 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."
Second Lt. Hassan Kalid, a platoon leader with 1st Co., 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 Co. 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."