HIT, Iraq (Army News Service, May 20, 2010) -- Once equal partners with Iraqi Security Forces in western Al Anbar province, U.S. military leaders played only an advisory role in a regional security conference here May 11.

Staff Brig. Gen. Adnon Aubaid Mushin Rashid, commander of 27th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, hosted the first Western Euphrates River Valley Regional Security Conference at his headquarters in Hit to bring civil and military leaders together in an open forum to discuss ongoing security issues.

The conference was the first time in several years that district government leadership from Haditha, Baghdadi and Hit met collectively with the leadership from the various Iraqi Security Forces that operate in the area to discuss security and stability, according to Lt. Col. Jose Thompson, commander of 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division (Advise and Assist).

Thompson's battalion has partnered with Adnon's brigade in an advise-and-assist role since autumn 2009.

The meeting was attended by the mayors, district council members, chiefs of police, Iraqi Army battalion commanders and ISF intelligence analysts.

"They all expressed a commitment to continuing to work together toward preserving security gains achieved during the recent national elections," said Thompson, who attended the event with Col. Mark R. Stammer, commander of 1/82 AAB, and other senior staff.

Adnon highlighted the need for security forces and local governments to work together to protect the people, to promote the equitable rule of law for all citizens, and to speak with one voice on security issues, said Thompson.

Stammer, whose brigade is based in Ramadi, stressed the need for all involved to work transparently and as an integrated network, but with clear leadership roles.

"Individually we can be broken, but together, we are unbreakable," said Stammer.

Adnon offered advice to security officials on how to protect citizens from violent extremists. Schools, hospitals and other places where large groups of people naturally congregate should be particularly well guarded, he said.

In the case of protests, protestors should inform security officials of their intentions so they can provide security, he said, noting that the right to protest was a part of the democratic process.

Adnon said that any civil or security official who felt too threatened to act on information on violent extremists could pass the information along to him and he would handle it.

(Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod writes for 1/82 AAB, USD-C)