By Sgt. Jon Soles, MND-B PAOOctober 13, 2009
BAGHDAD - As the Sons of Iraq continue to carry out their job of helping maintain security, visits from their American and Iraqi partners provide assistance and support to make sure the SoI have the resources to keep the peace.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, visited SoI checkpoints near Taji, here, Oct. 6, to inspect and check on supplies and the SoI's contingency plans in the event of an attack.
First Lt. Peter Muse, an infantry officer from Boston, led a platoon of Soldiers that took the troops down miles of dusty back roads. The mission began on a diplomatic note, as U.S. troops met with Sheikh Yasin Muhammad Hasayn at the Iraqi Army's Joint Security Station Hor al-Bosh, to discuss the local SoI needs.
The conversation was mostly about such needs as water and pay issues, but the sheikh also delighted in telling Muse about his grandchildren. The small talk helps build the relationships that pay off in earned trust between American Soldiers and Iraqis, said Muse.
"Sheikh Yasin is always helpful. He will stop in a lot to make sure things are working between locals and SoI."
Most of the SoI members are from the local neighborhoods they defend.
"The SoI guys are from around here so they have a better understanding," said Muse. "They know the people in the area, so they are a valuable asset."
At each checkpoint, Muse met with the SoI members to discuss their needs and tactical operations.
"We wanted to make sure they have food and water. We wanted to make sure they have a response plan if they come under attack; if they have a serious injury," said Muse. "They had plans for both."
Staff Sgt. Michael Litteken, of Electra, Texas, stood outside one checkpoint pulling security while Muse talked with the SoI guards. Litteken said such missions contribute to the area's security.
"We're making sure the area is safe and secure and putting out a U.S. Soldier presence here. We want to let them know we are still out here, still involved and to check on the SoI and make sure they are still doing their job like they're supposed to."
The inspection showed that the SoI is committed to the task of defending Iraq, according to Muse.
"Overall, I'm pretty happy. I was glad to see they know how to respond to certain situations and they have a plan," said Muse.
The future of Iraq's security is dependent on the preparedness of its security forces. The inspection of SoI checkpoints by American Soldiers was another way to check the SoI's readiness and hold them accountable for maintaining security.