By Spc. Maurice A. Galloway, 17th Fires BrigadeAugust 27, 2009
COB BASRA, Iraq (Aug. 24, 2009) -- Soldiers handed out humanitarian aid packages of food and supplies to the citizens of Faddaqhryah and Bahar in southern Iraq, Aug. 18.
The mission was to assist the Iraqi Army in providing urgent humanitarian assistance to Iraqi citizens, thereby fostering a relationship and laying the groundwork for future success between the IA and its country's residents, said Lt. Col. Ross. C. Scott, 17th Fires Brigade civil affairs officer.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, also participated in the humanitarian mission.
The Iraqi Army delivered more than 400 packages, at an estimated cost of $90,000, Scott said. Each package will feed a family of eight for 30 days.
The U.S. patrol, containing civil affairs and personnel security Soldiers, departed early from Contingency Operating Base Basra to link up in the Iraqi villages with their IA counterparts from the 14th Iraqi Army Division.
In each village, the IA and U.S. Soldiers were met with the welcoming, hopeful looks of local elders and heads of families and the curious, smiling faces of children.
"This is really helpful to us," said Abod, a citizen of Faddaqhryah, and one of the hundreds who lined up to collect food. "Since Ramadan is coming, we thank God for all of this. I have nine family members that all these supplies will benefit greatly."
The IA soldiers were pleased as well to be part of such a mission.
"This is really nice. We're here helping these people who are poor and need these supplies," said Krarr Haidar, an IA Soldier. "Also, there are large families where no one in the household is working; these supplies benefit them the most."
Although the Iraqi Army was in the lead for the mission, the 17th Fires Brigade personnel security detachment provided additional security for the event.
"It seems as though the IA is becoming completely self-sufficient by the way they handled this event in a professional matter," said Cpl. Dale L. Comella, 17th FB Headquarters Battery, personnel security detachment medic and native of West Seneca, N.Y.
"Overall, I was impressed with the organization of the mission and the gratitude from the locals. We are trained to think that the threat is always out there, so to come in contact with these people who were so inviting and welcoming was a whole different experience for me," she added.
"We're so happy that the Soldiers are here to help," said a Bahar citizen, who is an Iraqi secondary school teacher. "We have no hospitals close by so if we get sick we must travel far. Also our water isn't drinkable which is why we are very grateful that the Soldiers are bringing us supplies."
"The Iraqi Army has made tremendous strides toward providing for their people," said Staff Sgt. Samuel G. Ward, 17th FB HHB, PSD, 2nd squad leader and native of Jefferson City, Mo. "We used to have to pull a lot of our own security, but now we're in a supervisory role where we'll aid them by pointing out something we notice and they'll take charge in securing the threat."
"They're setting up their own operations; they're clearly running their own show. We're just here just to point them in the right direction," Ward said.