By By Spc. Samuel J. Phillips, MNC-I PAOMay 3, 2008
The Iraqi Ground Forces Command held its first ever civil affairs conference April 28 here. It was the first time the Iraqi civil affairs officers have ever come together to discuss structure, plans and operations.
"This is just the initial conference for the G9 of the Iraqi Army," said Brig. Gen. Ghazi, civil affairs director IGFC. "We will discuss the current structure and operations of our civil affairs. In future conferences we will have an action plan."
The idea behind the conference was to get a clear view of where the IGFC G9 stands now and where it is heading. Multi-National Corps - Iraq U.S. civil affairs officers were also present to let the IGFC know if it is heading in the right direction.
"The IGFC is starting to realize the importance of military-civil relations," said Col. Michael F. J. Herchmer, civil military operations advisor. "Very important work is being done to move forward. This is a great first step on this journey."
During the conference, Ghazi thanked the U.S. Army for its aid in training his civil affairs officers. "The lectures and training are of great benefit to us."
"Civil affairs is new to the Iraqi army," said Muhammad, a U.S. translator and cultural advisor for the Counter-Insurgency, Anti-Guerrilla Warfare School.
Though it is a new aspect to the IGFC, major steps have been taken to advance in the eyes of the Iraqi citizens. The civil affairs work in cities such as Sadr and Basra have drastically improved security in Iraq, Ghazi said. "In my opinion we have reached a successful level of G9 operations," he said. Ghazi went on to say that even with the success there is a lot that can be improved upon.
"This is a big achievement for the Iraqi army," Muhammad said. "The work that is being done legitimizes the government in the eyes of citizens and helps the army establish civil authority."
Civil affairs is important to win over the civilian population, as it aids in the isolation of insurgents. "It's all about the hearts and minds of the people," Muhammad said.