Iraqi, coalition forces hit Ghazaliyah with security, service combination
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – It’s a place where bullet-holes spider web across kitchen windows and heaps of garbage blanket every street corner. Here, the sporadic sound of shooting doesn’t faze its inhabitants because the clatter of gunfire is as common as the numbing noise of horns during rush hour traffic.
Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers are placing an emphasis on humanitarian efforts in conjunction with one of their main clearance operations, “Arrowhead Strike 9,” in the Iraqi capital’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood, a place known for its history of violence.
“We know that the (counterinsurgency) effort requires that we secure the population and build faith in host Nation’s capabilities to provide services and a quality of life that will deny the insurgents sanctuary,” said Col. J.B. Burton, Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, from Schweinfurt, Germany.
According to Iraqi Army Col. Ghassan, the commander of the 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, 70 to 75 percent of the people are relaxed about what the Iraqi and coalition forces are doing here.
In joint meetings throughout the operation, the combined group agreed that providing services to the community should be hand in hand with major clearing operations such as this one.
“Big-scale operations on cleaning the area are a very important mission to help improve the populace’s image of the Iraqi Army,” added the commander.
In order to improve relations with the local populace, Iraqi and coalition forces are not only continuing to secure the city with operation “Arrowhead Strike 9”, but contracting local sanitation crews to improve the appearance of the war-torn streets that weave throughout the city.
In addition to sweeping up the loose trash and debris, there were four sewage disposal teams in the area.
“The linking of medical operations, school operations, and other humanitarian operations to the effort is simple. Combining these efforts with clearing operations demonstrates that the Iraqi security and coalition forces in partnership have access to the resources which create a higher quality of life for the citizens of our area of operation,” Burton said.
In a neighborhood where healthcare is nonexistent, basic services that a medical operation ran by the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, were proven successful by the amount of locals who filed into lines to obtain treatment March 25.
“It was very effective and a good way to reach out and make people feel safer about their community and provide them with some basic essential services,” said Lt. Col. Avanulas Smiley, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
“I think it shows that were not just robots out here to destroy the city, but that we care and while we’re here we’re trying to do some good,” said Pfc. James Workman with the 301st Physiological Company attached to 2-12 Cav.
Luckily for the children of the neighborhood it wasn’t all thermometers and stethoscopes.
After receiving treatment, children walked down the school’s main hallway and out the door where they were greeted by Iraqi Army soldiers who handed out soccer balls, stuffed animals, backpacks, color pencils and other school supplies.
For some soldiers, the most rewarding part of operations like this is the chance to let the kids know that there’s some hope and troops are here to do good things and help make this country better.
“We’re not just here to take care of the bad guys, we’re here to help them as well,” said Capt. Jeff Wright, the fire support officer of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, and native of Arizona City, Ariz.
“Just seeing how happy the kids get with something as simple as a soccer ball or a box of crayons, through their eyes you realize how much we take things for granted back home,” said Workman, native of San Diego, Calif.
Spc. Juan Pacheco, an infantryman with Company D, 2-12 Cav, said “When you look at the kids’ expressions you cannot help but feel that all the (sacrifice) is for something. That it all has a purpose.”
In dedication to the welfare of the Iraqi people, the battle space owner is also working on a couple of sewage pump repair projects. And there is one large project, the auto-sewage bypass station, which the corps of engineers is also working.
“I think a large effect is going to take some time, but I think people are starting to see the smaller effects,” Smiley said.
Ready to catch you
Spc. Juan Pacheco, an infantryman with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, and native of Panoma, Calif., stands ready to catch an Iraqi boy who climbed up a barrier during a medical operation in the Iraqi capital’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood March 25. Pacheco has been in the Army for about three years. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)
Iraqi medic helps Iraqi woman
An Iraqi Army medic checks the blood pressure of a woman during a medical operation at a school in the Iraqi capital’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood March 25. The humanitarian mission took place during a clearing operation coined “Arrowhead Strike 9.” (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)
The future of Iraq
An Iraqi boy tugs on Sgt. Pietrzyk Bjoerm’s stethoscope as the healthcare specialist with the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division Military Transition Team, conducts a medical screening of the child during a medical operation in the Iraqi capital’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood March 25. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)
An Iraqi boy and girl walk towards the entrance of the school with handfuls of school supplies during a medical operation in the Iraqi capital’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood March 25. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)
At the crack of hope
Iraqi army soldiers had out stuffed animals, soccer balls, backpacks and other school supplies to local children during a medical operation in Baghdad’s Ghazaliyah neighborhood March 25. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)
An excellent write up by Spc. Ledesma! It is good to see the Iraq Army working side-by-side with our men and women, not just clearing the streets of terrorists, but also building hope and friendships with the local people.
Today as I take the baton for the RVF I will make my dedication all encompassing. God Bless the men and women around the world who are striving to make our planet a safer place to live. Give us strength to face our challenges, a resolve to reach out to others in need, and a keen awareness of those who mean to harm us. Keep our morale high and our focus sharp.
And most of all I ask that your guardian angels watch over our men and women who are in harms way.
Big hugs to all from this very Proud Cav Mom!!!
P.S. To my L’il Trooper… Can’t wait to see you!