CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - There was a long line of black headcovers, children running around unworried, a medical crew ready to take care of their own and military men providing security as Iraqi Army troops turned a school in Baghdad's Bakariya Village into a temporary medical clinic Oct. 22.

Soldiers from the Iraqi Army, 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, conducted the medical operation without any assistance from their U.S. counterparts, making this the first medical operation conducted on their own since they started working with American troops.

"Today was an IA-ran medical operation. They provided the doctors, and all we were doing was overseeing it," said Sgt. 1st Class James Rundberg, a Baltimore, N.Y., native and a scout platoon sergeant for the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment. "We were helping them out making sure they had security in the site, ensuring that they were searching the people as they were coming in, and making sure that everything was run in an orderly fashion."

Rundberg explained that medical operations are conducted to help people who do not have the economic resources or medical assistance nearby, like hospitals or clinics.

"This right here is a land-mark event," said the New Orleans native Capt. Randy Lavender, a medical platoon leader. "Normally, we would be organizing these ourselves, and we ask the Iraqis for help. But in this case, they came to us. They planned it for themselves, and they wanted this for the people of Bakariya."

Operations like these help build strong relations between the Coalition Forces and the residents.

"When we first got here it was real quiet. People didn't really trust us or even the IA in the area," said Rundberg. "Now, the kids are interacting with us more, even the adults come out and let us know if they have seen or heard anything bad in the area."

The Bakariya Village has enjoyed progress since the Iraqi Army and U.S. troops have been working together in the area.

"Since we've been in that area, they have a market area that has opened up, a soccer field and trash collection areas," said Rundberg.

Page last updated Wed October 24th, 2007 at 12:22