FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 8, 2008) - In a vital and encouraging boost to the efforts against al Qaeda in Iraq, local sheiks met with Coalition Forces to discuss cooperation and future Concerned Local Citizen programs Jan. 4.

Sheiks from areas surrounding Sayafia spoke with Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and Col. Dan Ball, commander of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.

During the event, Cols. Ferrell and Ball and the sheiks discussed some of the crimes and injustices that al Qaeda had perpetrated.

One Iraqi man described being forced from his home and land by al Qaeda, which now uses his property as a safehouse.

He pleaded with both leaders to help him get his property back. Col. Ferrell replied, "That's what I'm here to do."

He went on to tell the sheiks that he hoped they were serious about their commitment to the area.

The sheiks told Col. Ferrell information they had on the whereabouts and strength of al Qaeda forces.

He also emphasized that while it's critical that the sheiks share information, they should not arm their respective communities and rove around looking for insurgents.

Col. Ferrell said that militias are illegal in Iraq and the CLCs need to focus their efforts on providing information on terrorist activities in and around their homes and villages.

(Sgt. Luis Delgadillo works for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Office.)