Rakkasans worked with Iraqi Army troops to conduct a veterinary operation in Yusufiyah Feb. 5.

Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and their IA counterparts arranged a veterinarian visit at a local sheik's house.

Mohel Abdella Mohammed, a local female veterinarian, treated more than 120 cows and sheep with the Soldiers' help. Mohel vaccinated the animals for Clostridium chauvoei, commonly known as Blackleg, a fatal bacterial infection common in cows and sheep.

Mohel completed her degree at Baghdad University in 1988 and has practiced veterinary medicine for more than 20 years. She said she was excited about working with Soldiers to vaccinate animals in her town and hopes to conduct more of these visits to offer medical treatment to

other farming communities.

Sheik Khudaur, who hosted the vet visit, talked with Mohel about the health of his tribe's animals and said he was pleased to hear that they were all generally healthy.

"We try to tailor our missions to the needs of the tribe. The Abu Alush tribe depends on agriculture and farming," said 1st Lt. Casey Zimmerman, from Santa Barbara, Calif., platoon leader for 3rd Platoon. Keeping animals healthy boosts their production value and enhances the farming industry's role in tribal economics.

Pittsburgh, Penn., native Capt. Michael Starz, commander of Company C, said the vet visit was particularly beneficial because they were able to employ a local professional. The event also had a positive impact on the economy because the vaccinations were locally purchased.

Pfc. Andrew Finney, from Philadelphia, Company C, said events like this vet visit are very useful because they strengthen bonds between the local populace and Coalition Forces.

Following the vaccinations, the Soldiers joined Sheik Khudaur at his home. Finney said the sheik is a good leader who cares about the well-being of his tribe and is always helpful and hospitable to Soldiers.

"This, just sitting here, is the most beneficial thing we do. Just sitting and talking breeds a mutual respect," Finney said. "The more we learn about their culture, the more we respect them and the more they respect us for learning about them."