BAGHDAD - A small and severely underprivileged area in the Janeen neighborhood in the center of the Iraqi capital known as the "Quds Camp," has been overlooked by the local government in Qadisiyah, and achieving recognition and assistance for these people from the local neighborhood advisory council has been a major goal for the Soldiers of Battery A, 3rd "Red Dragons" Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division for several months.

The farming community is made up primarily of displaced citizens who have come from outside the area and taken up residence on land that was unoccupied.
They have put up shacks for their families and established a small community; however, local leaders consider them squatters and haven't been willing to provide support.

"The neighborhood council didn't really want to go into that area and didn't really feel like they should support those people," explained Capt. Jesse Wood, the projects manager for Battery A. "In their eyes, they don't deem them as legitimate residents of the neighborhood and trying to get them to become more and more involved with these people is something we have been working on about the last six months."

The Red Dragons made some major strides toward that goal during a heater and blanket distribution, which was conducted in conjunction with the Iraqi Army and the Janeen NAC, Nov. 29.

"I think we started to build that tie today between the neighborhood council and some of those people, which is good because they're the ones who really need help," the Blackwell, Okla. native added.

Seventy-seven heaters and nearly 100 wool blankets were passed out to the residents of the Quds Camp to help them cope with the upcoming winter.

While the humanitarian items were provided by 3-82 FA, the distribution was conducted entirely by Iraqi Army soldiers and Udai Ra'ed, the chairman of the Janeen NAC.

Maj. Wes Stewart of the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion called the NAC's involvement in the mission "very significant."

"Transition is one of the major events for the Coalition Forces and to have the Iraqi Army come out and help us distribute these items was very important to us," said Stewart, who calls Virginia Beach, Va. home.

Wood said he was pleased with how the Iraqi soldiers and the NAC interacted with the people, and said he believes this will be a stepping stone toward improving relations between the residents of the Quds Camp and the government.

"It went really smoothly," he said. "The Iraqi Army and NAC worked pretty impressively. They took charge. Most importantly, though, it puts their face out there and it helps build that partnership between the people and the ISF, so they can eventually take over the security job and earn the trust of the people."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16