Steel Dragons partner with local sheik to support Iraqi families
July 11, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq, July 11, 2011 -- It was approaching mid-day, dust had picked up, conditions were not the best, but Lt. Col. Robert Wright, commander of Task Force Steel Dragon, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was determined to help a local sheik support his tribe when they needed it the most.
A few weeks earlier, Task Force Steel Dragon had downloaded six trucks worth of humanitarian aid in Dhi Qar province. Literally tons of sugar, beans, flour and tea were lugged through the Steel Dragon assembly line and set up in rows six feet high. The site was impressive and the feat enormous.
The first aid drop was through Sheik Mahmoud’s tribe and was to be delivered to thirty different families. In one aid packet was a 50 kilogram bag of flour, a bag of beans, sugar, lentils, milk formula, tea, cans of tomatoes and cooking oil.
While United States Forces-Iraq used their resources to make it possible, it was the insistence and leadership of the Iraqi sheiks and government which helped the idea come into fruition.
Those were the tangibles, but the intangible value was priceless. Children smiled from ear to ear. Families who were struggling through the summer months with little water and food supplies were now going to be able to endure the heat of July and August.
The idea that humanitarian aid is a permanent fix would be naïve. What the humanitarian aid mission offers is proof to the underprivileged in Iraq that the sheiks and government do care and have their best interests in mind.
Also, as Wright and his Soldiers lifted the packets off the stacks, helped carry the bags of aid to the homes and smiled as pictures were taken. They offered the softer side of USF-I to people that may otherwise fall victim to the negative propaganda of insurgents.
“This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate to the local populace our genuine concern for their well being. We hope that this opportunity will provide the local families the ability to view U.S. forces as their friends and partners as we continue to further develop the security situation in Iraq.” said Wright.
The reposturing of USF-I is inevitable. But what the Steel Dragons are trying to accomplish is to leave a positive footprint on a land which had little hope just eight years earlier under an oppressive regime. In their last few months in Iraq, as their final symphony, they can help place the cornerstones for a brighter future, one bag of sugar at a time.