By Mrs. Debra Preitkis (JFHQNCR/MDW)December 10, 2009
How do Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and US Army Military District of Washington work with civilian authorities and federal agencies' How does the command respond to emergencies and work with our local, state and national counterparts'
Those were just some of the questions posed by four members of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior during their visit to Fort McNair on Wednesday.
With upcoming elections sparking renewed violence in Iraq, security and MDW's inter-agency relationships were concerns for these Iraqi military officials. Disagreements among rival political factions have delayed Iraq's elections, the first in almost five years, to March 7.
The visit came about through the ITAM, the Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission; ITAM is led by the former commander of JFHQ-NCR, Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe Jr. ITAM is a subordinate command to the Multi-National Security Transition Command (MNSTC), which is responsible for developing, organizing, training, equipping and sustaining the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior.
In addition to a brief from Col. Richard Swengros, director of Operations for JFHQ-NCR/MDW, the Iraqi officials toured MDW's Joint Operation Center as well as the command's Mobile Command Post and the Emergency Response Vehicle.
"They're interested in JFHQ's mission and how the military interacts with civilian authorities for security, emergencies and other support," Swengros said.
Col. Scott Symes, director of Operations for ITAM-MOI, who helped orchestrate this international gathering said, "They're here to see what 'right' looks like." Col. Symes escorted the four Iraqi officers and their interpreter: SMG Jawad Ali Hussein Ali Lama, Operations and Planning; SBG Muhialdeen Jewad Muhi Hamada, Deputy National Command Ctr: SCOL Mohammed Irzooqi Hussein Al Anbagi, Deputy Ops and Planning: SCOL Esmail Khalil Muhsen Al Qaraghooli Shift Director Ntl Cmd Ctr:Bassiem Dawood, Interpreter.
The Iraqi military officials were interested not only in the challenges the command faces, but also how JFHQ-NCR works with national agencies including FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, and our role in Defense Support for Civil Authorities.
In addition to Fort McNair, the Iraqis met with officials at the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and Capitol Police in Washington, D.C.
During the briefing, the Iraqi officials described the hardships their military faces on the road to democracy. Col. Swengros responded by saying "Your enemies want to break you apart. They want the police and the Army and the Provinces and the National Government to bicker and even fight. You're on the right track. It's just going to be a long road to get there."