Violence Decreasing, Thanks to Reconciliation Efforts
Northwest Rashid Hayy (community) leaders along with Iraqi Security Forces and government representatives attend a reconciliation meeting Jan. 6. The meeting between local Rashid community leaders discussed problems in their communities and the progress achieved so far.

BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 16, 2008) -- Northwest Rashid community leaders, senior Iraqi Security Forces leaders and Iraqi government members gathered Jan. 6 for a reconciliation meeting.

The meetings began in September and, due to the progress made with security in the communities, are now being held once a month for the leaders to share ideas on how to tackle violence in their respective areas.

"These meetings have been exceptionally helpful in assisting us reduce the amount of violence in West Rashid," said Lt. Col. Patrick Frank, commander of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment "Black Lions," 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

"Before we started these meetings, we had a significant level of violence, but with these meetings and the cooperation of the leaders the violence has dropped dramatically, so we want to continue with the momentum of the reconciliation process," Lt. Col. Frank said.

Part of the success with the meetings is how they are conducted. Soldiers from the 28th Infantry Regiment, who host the meeting, show each leader specific community problems with security in their area, whether it is indirect fire, small arms fire or improvised explosive devices. The leader is among his peers when his area is shown and discussed, which adds some peer pressure on him as the problems are addressed.

"We found peer pressure is also a way to reduce violence in these areas," said Lt. Col. Frank. "The Shia and the Sunni have not normally fought the way we've seen recently, so bringing them together into a forum like this has assisted in the dialog between those two groups."

Now they would like to take it to the next level, which is to turn the economy around by providing jobs to their citizens and providing essential services like electricity, trash removal and sewers, Lt. Col. Frank said.

"The number one goal here is to stabilize security," said Lt. Col. Frank. "If we can provide that sustainable security in west Rashid, then we will have achieved our goal successfully."

Page last updated Wed January 16th, 2008 at 10:32