CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq - Jazz music performed by the 25th Infantry Division band set the scene as Iraqi and Coalition Forces Soldiers celebrated their 1st Partnership Day with beef bar-b-que, competitive sports and training exercises at Forward Operating Base Dagger, April 9.
"I love the changes and the improvements that Coalition and Iraqi Forces have established through the years," said Lt. Col. Ibrahim Amier, G-5 officer, 4th Iraqi Army Division. "By changing the thoughts and theories of how both American and Iraqi citizens view each other, we see that we are the same in a lot of areas, and that has truly improved the overall relationship between our forces," he added.
The event was designed to enjoy the fruits of building relations between Coalition and Iraqi Forces and to celebrate their successful operations throughout Salah ad-Din province.
"Gen. Salah suggested that we have this Partnership Day on the 9th which is the day Iraqis celebrate their liberation from the regime of Sadaam Hussein," said Col. Gary David, commander of the 4th Iraqi Army Division military transition team. "I saw this as an excellent opportunity to put these great occasions together to enjoy the accomplishments of our partnership in Iraq," he added.
"The fact that Sadaam Hussein's influence through the Ba'ath Party was at its peak in this area and that his hometown is right next door to us in Owja, shows what Gen. Salah and the 4th IA Div. have done to calm this area today-It's actually hard now to believe that this used to be the home of the Ba'ath Party because of the efforts of Gen. Salah," he continued.
The idea for Partnership Day started a month and a half ago. Gen. Salah, 4th IA Div. commander, and David wanted to have a day that would focus on celebrating the completion of various combined efforts before it began to get too hot in the summer. David also wanted the Army Band to play the right tunes to provide a smooth atmosphere for the event.
The celebration kicked off with the Iraqi Army soccer team squaring off against U.S. Army Soldiers. The first sporting event was filled with cheers and excitement from the spectators around the soccer field.
After the Iraqi Soldiers took the win in soccer, they continued their domination up-and-over the volleyball net during the next phase of the celebration.
As the afternoon heat began to kick in, Army cooks opened up two grills containing sautAfAed chicken, juicy T-bone steaks, beef hamburgers and hotdogs being prepared for the celebration. Traditional Iraqi cuisine was also served during the event.
The celebration didn't deviate completely from its military feel, as Iraqi medical personnel had a demonstration of evaluating casualties with proper evacuation procedures, proper preventive maintenance checks and services on military vehicles and an AK-47 assembly and disassembly competition.
Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers alike teamed up in a doubles ping pong tournament, while David gave Iraqis pointers on how to use the nine irons to launch golf balls over the Tigris River to conclude the sporting events for the celebration.
The day was not only to have fun in the sun, but to also leave the celebration having learned something new from the interactions between Coalition and Iraqi Forces, according to David.
"The true key that we have found in helping perform our part in assisting our Iraqi counterparts, is not to teach them how Coalition Forces operate, but to try and learn how they do it and make suggestions on how to improve the formula they have come up with--we are here to assist in this manner," said David.