Soldiers visit their Bedouin neighbors in southern Iraq
October 19, 2010
- Soldiers stationed near Nasiriyah, Iraq, went out to the desert to visit their Bedouin neighbors.
- The visit's purpose was to develop relationships with the nomadic peoples in their region.
NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division took some time to meet and get to know their neighbors.
In this case, the neighbors were members of Bedouin tribes that live close to Camp Adder, a sprawling hub of military activity located in southern Iraq near the city of An Nasiriyah.
The battalion operates out of this base, and frequently travels through areas occupied by Bedouins. Because of this, Capt. Ryan Mendenhall, battery commander at the time from Efrum, Utah, decided to develop relationships with some of the tribes.
"Back home, most people try to get to know the other people in their community. That way everyone can live together without any issues," Mendenhall said. "Essentially, we're trying to do the same thing here."
The Soldiers set out for the sandy expanse where the Bedouins live. Their lumbering vehicles took it slow over the uneven terrain, but before long, the patrol spotted several tents in the desert and stopped about 100 meters away.
Once the Soldiers got out of their vehicles, some of the Bedouin elders approached them, offering the traditional greeting of a kiss on the cheek. The elders invited the Soldiers into one of the tents to talk. Inside the tent, the Bedouins brought out tea and discussions erupted on subjects ranging from the Eid festival, marking the end of Ramadan, to democracy and the role of United States forces in Iraq.
Several hours later, after many spirited discussions, the Soldiers said their good-byes, but not before promising to return later to continue building the relationship with the Bedouin tribes.
Afterward, the unit's executive officer, Capt. Donald Mills of Rome, N.Y., reflected on the trip.
"I think we accomplished a lot, even though we just sat and talked and enjoyed their hospitality," Mills said. "Now, they know us and we know them so they're more likely to tell us when something is wrong or if they notice something out of the ordinary. That can be all the difference between us being successful in our mission or not."
The 3rd AAB, 4th Inf. Div. currently falls under operational control of United States Division-South and the 1st Infantry Division.
<i>Capt. Andrew Huth is assigned to 3rd Bn., 29th Field Artillery Regt., 3/4 AAB)</i>