JOINT SECURITY STATION TARMIYAH, Iraq - As Iraqi townspeople debated with raised voices in a building in Tarmiyah, Jan. 11, the commander of Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, sat in the back of the room and listened intently as his interpreter translated the concerns of the local populace.
This was the first time Capt. David Culver had attended a Tarmiyah council meeting since his unit began supporting Iraqi Security Forces in the qada.
Troop A recently replaced outgoing elements of 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, who are redeploying stateside.
"We're there to answer any security questions they might have as well as keep tabs on what other problems are affecting the population," said Culver, a Palatine, Ill. native.
The meeting helped him get a better idea of local issues in the area and prepared him to assist his Iraqi counterparts in making Tarmiyah a safer place.
One thing Culver said was very encouraging to see was the input from the attendees at the meeting.
"There was an issue, there was some conflict over the issue, and they came to a consensus and eventually moved forward," he said.
Communication wasn't always good in the meetings, said Capt. Ray Canzonier, commander of Company B, 2nd Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. Canzonier's company secured Tarmiyah before Troop A arrived.
"I've seen an increased participation (from council members)," said Canzonier, a Point Pleasant, N.J., native.
The council members discussed items such as a neighborhood watch program, area construction projects and street cleanliness.
Culver took all of these issues into consideration. However, the biggest benefit the commander took away from the meeting was an introduction to the local people.
"As a new commander here, knowing the influential people who walk into town is important," he said.
Being able to talk face-to-face with several of the council members, both before and after the meeting, Culver said he left the meeting feeling welcome in the neighborhood.
"Everyone seemed very encouraged to work with me," said Culver; "just as I'm encouraged and excited to work with them."