Humanitarian Missions foster friendships in neighboring village

By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LSA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — In an effort to make Iraqi villages more self-sufficient, the 13th Corps Support Command Civil Affairs office conducts training for more than 100 Iraqi ex-military personnel and performs Medical Civil Action Projects.

The Civil Affairs staff trains the security and fire personnel in such fundamentals as cover and concealment, positioning with suspects, search tactics, weapons searches, suspect escort, defensive tactics and first aid.

MEDCAPs are missions in which medical personnel treat and educate Iraqi villagers on ways to get and stay healthy.

"I am surprised at how welcomed we are. The children really seem to love us and the children are very gracious," said Air Force Maj. Kristina Miller with the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility.

The protective training began last year with the 308th Civil Affairs Command, which decided that in order to maintain proficiency on critical skills, the security force must undergo frequent training.

They all received certificates for completing the initial training, and 13th COSCOM G-5 took control of the training program after it replaced the 308th Civil Affairs Command.

"We do it in two hour blocks, and we follow the basic training program that security personnel in the United States would be expected to receive," said Lt. Col. Duane Stanton, operations and public safety officer with 13th COSCOM G-5.

The security force provides emergency service response to Bakr Village, which has about 400 residences occupied by about 3000 people. Most of the residents of the village were workers on this base before it came under U.S. control. Many former Iraqi Air Force officers and noncommissioned officers live there and work as part of the emergency service force.

"Many of their jobs prior to working for the U.S. were as fighter pilots, and the rest of them were support technicians for the air base," Stanton said.

Personnel volunteered and were selected.

"The chief of security, an ex-MiG fighter pilot, was instrumental in directing the process of selecting people who were productive workers in the Iraqi air force," Stanton said.

Civil Affairs conducts the training because the emergency services personnel are contracted by LSA Anaconda to provide security and fire protection to the village due to their close proximity to the installation.

"It's our desire to maintain a stable, safe environment for the village and maintain a good working relationship between the village and LSA Anaconda. That concern ties directly into the security of not only the village but our own base," Stanton said.

The Soldiers who conduct the training have the appropriate background training to oversee the program.

"For us, it's a great thing to do because our own backgrounds are in public safety," he said. "Master Sgt. Jack Solorio, the primary trainer, worked with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. Sgt. Carlos Gonzalez, who started up the refresher training program, worked with the Oakland Police Department."

Stanton is the area commander with the Oregon State Police Department.

Even with the challenges of language barriers and security for the training sessions, the Civil Affairs instructors enjoy providing this training.

"The emergency services personnel are very receptive, very enthusiastic and motivated to learn the training. It's a pleasure and an honor for us to be able to conduct this training with the Iraqi emergency services personnel," Stanton said.

The 118th Medical Battalion periodically takes part in a MEDCAP missions in which they provide treatment for various illnesses and oral hygiene.

"We are making steady uphill progress in improving the quality of life in Iraq," said Col. Nicholas Zoeller, the 13th Corps Support Command Chief of Staff (G-5).

Editors Note: Pfc. Burton is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.

 

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Humanitarian Missions foster friendships in neighboring village pictures

news photo
Humanitarian Missions foster friendships in neighboring village pictures