By 1st Lt. Patrick Leroy Beaudry, 2nd AAB, 1st Infantry DivisionAugust 18, 2011
BAGHDAD, Aug. 18, 2011 -- Soldiers with Company D, 1st "Dragon" Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division-Center supported an Iraqi-led humanitarian outreach operation Aug. 2 on a hot summer evening at Joint Security Station Deason, Iraq.
The 17th Iraqi Army Division transported approximately 600 people in great material need from around the Mahmudiyah area to receive the food, clothes, school supplies, generator parts and medication.
"During the past year, we have worked jointly with the 17th Iraqi Army Division to provide humanitarian aid and execute small-scale projects that have impacted more than 10,000 people," said Lt. Col. Todd Reed, a stability transition team officer with 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment. "The aid has been in the form of food bags, medical supplies, physical examinations, as well the distribution of water filters and refurbishing old generators."
All of these items were in demand, especially the generator parts that can greatly enhance life in communities not covered by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. Electricity in much of Iraq is scarce and many households go without it for large portions of the day.
With the drawdown of U.S. forces looming, Capt. Michael McClain, commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, said he feels compelled to do as much as he can for the people within his sector.
"We didn't want to just leave -- we've spent almost a year here, and there is still a lot of poverty and every bit helps," said McClain. "Missions like this not only help put food on the table in Iraqi homes, but they show the impoverished that we are not blind to their plight."
The Iraq army opted to hold the outreach mission on a soccer field within the 17th IA Division headquarters area at JSS Deason. The location provided a sense of security for all involved and engendered a relaxed atmosphere that would not have been possible were it held in a public location, where tight security would be required.
Maj. Raymond Dillman, an intelligence advisor of the stability transition team with 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, native, said that the operation was an American-influenced, Iraqi-led mission.
"All we did was coordinate with vendors for a food purchase, and with other U.S. forces and humanitarian organizations for items like clothing and shoes," he said. "The Iraqis took care of security, finding the proper people to bring in to receive the aid, and the overall timing of the event."
The mission went off as planned, and several hundred Iraqis' lives were improved. With this experience fresh in their minds, leaders with the 17th Iraqi Army Division have already begun resourcing for future outreach operations which will be entirely provided for from within their own budget.