PATROL BASE JURF, Iraq - The commander of the Multi-National Division - Center visited Soldiers and leadership of 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division here July 7.

Major General Michael Oates visited the area to assess the operating environment in and around Jurf as Sahkr and attend a leadership engagement that included Col. Sa'eed, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 33rd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and Col. Thomas James, 4th BCT commander.

"The only reason we're here is to help you get this area under control," Oates said to Sa'eed. "This is the year the IA must take over security; we're very appreciative for the sacrifices you've made for this country; and only a Soldier or policemen can truly understand the struggles you've faced."

Oates said his goal for the Iraqi Security Forces is to ensure they have the proper equipment to be mission capable, a difficult task due to a widespread IA humvee shortage. Leaders discussed various aspects of security operations, including the Sons of Iraq program.

"(SoIs) cooperate with us as the Coalition forces do," said Sa'eed. "We've successfully screened 2,500 members eligible for ISF transition; however, (we) have not received the (Ministry of Interior's) approval to hire the eligible applicants, creating a stoppage in the SoI transition process."

Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Newsome, 3-7th Inf. Regt. Commander, echoed Sa'eed's comments on the success of cooperative efforts between Coalition forces and the people of Iraq.

"We have accomplished security through relationships (with Iraqis), which have opened the door to economic development, allowing (Government of Iraq) funded projects to create the opportunity for a better tomorrow," said Newsome.

Oates ended the engagement emphasizing three things he hopes to accomplish to ensure the success of the ISF.

"We need to ensure the ISF receives the equipment they're asking for, we must find viable forms of employment for SoIs, and lastly, the elections must happen because Iraqis need to believe they have a say over the future of Iraq," said Oates.