By Spc. Creighton Holub, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.March 27, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - The Iraqi Army 10th Division graduated 21 students from its first civil affairs course at Camp Dhi Qar March 19.
The class is normally taught at Camp Taji, just north of Baghdad, but military leaders realized it would be easier to mobilize a group of instructors from the civil affairs academy than it would be to send the 21-man class north.
While the five-day class was short compared to other courses, the IA civil affairs specialists learned techniques on how to deliver important and fundamental needs to the country's citizens.
"We learned how to treat people and how to help those in need," said Iraqi Sgt. Maj. Muhammad Favel, a graduate of the course. "We will build the relationship between us and the civilian community."
However, these freshly-trained troops have a difficult path ahead of them, according to one of their instructors' senior leaders.
"We work with one of the hardest parts of war," said Lt. Col. Kelly Thrasher, 304th Civil Affairs Brigade deputy of civilian-information management. "We work with people. If we don't win the hearts and minds of the people, the people will follow someone else."
Getting Iraq's citizenry involved in securing their own homeland has been the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division's focus since they assumed responsibility of the southern Iraqi tri-province region last June.
"Civil-military operations help secure the victory," said Lt. Col. Charles Anderson, 304th Civil Affairs Bde. deputy operations officer.
His unit's instructors reinforced the concept that through caring for the local community and grassroots efforts, Iraqi citizens will reciprocate by getting involved with restoring their country.
"Now I can share my knowledge with my (fellow soldiers)," said Iraqi Sgt. Maj. Muhammad Aneed, one of the graduates. "We will build a good relationship between the Iraqi Army and the citizens. We've helped people in the Maysan province with the Americans' assistance."
The graduates are set to return to their units to share their recently acquired knowledge with fellow soldiers.