The continued humanitarian efforts of our men and women build bridges of trust with the Iraqi people! Time after time we are there to offer aid, to help those in distress. It is no surprise to me that the people are warming up to our Warriors. 1st Cavalry News
US, Iraqi Forces provide water to beleaguered western Baghdad neighborhood
By 1st Lt. Mike Gilotti
2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment
BAGHDAD — It took a water crisis to give U.S. and Iraqi forces an opportunity to earn the trust of the residents in the western neighborhood of Shula in the Iraqi capital. A portion of western Baghdad located in the Kadamiyah District stopped receiving water due to broken pipes from a failing water line.
The crisis, and the quick reaction by U.S. and Iraqi forces, helped them to gain trust among the residents.
For more than nine months the Shula area patrolled by Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment from Fort Bliss, Texas, was an area where the Jaish Al-Mahdi militia members had significant control.
“Patrols tried to give people the understanding that if no one in the area helped to give up JAM terrorists, and if attacks continued, there was nothing [Coalition Forces] could do until the attacks stopped,” said Capt. Keith McCarty, the executive officer with Alpha Company.
The water crisis changed that.
“For a period of 48 hours there was no water and for weeks the situation regarding electricity continued to worsen” said Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Leon, a platoon sergeant for Alpha Company.
Coalition patrols were approached by local citizens about the water shortage. When the troops delivered the needed water to the community, U.S. and Iraqi forces gained the support of the people.
Alpha Company coordinated for a humanitarian aid drop of bottled water for the people of Shula. The mission was conducted jointly with the Iraqi Army and became an immediate attraction throughout the neighborhood. Children cheered for the Soldiers and Iraqi men thanked the officers and noncommissioned officers of both armies. Smiles were shared by everyone. Over a two day period, the company continued this humanitarian aid effort.
“Locals approached the patrols and said that they saw it as a sign of offering and peace,” said Capt. Jim Walker, commander of Alpha Company. “That this gesture was a way of forward progress for Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces, and the people of Shula to peacefully operate and mutually co-exist.”
The company pushed the message that U.S. and Iraqi forces wanted to fix the water and electricity problems, but needed the community’s help. Over the next few days, people began to approach patrols on friendly terms.
Residents said they blamed JAM for not fixing the problem and that the Americans were trying to help Iraqi citizens. Patrols have been conducted daily with the Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division to show the people of Shula that both American and Iraqi troops were working to improve the situation.
“Alpha Company is now in the process of making more proposals for additional humanitarian missions and projects to continue this relationship with the local population,” said 1st Lt. Moonerah Lao, the 2-12th Cavalry’s public affairs representative. “The company’s efforts are truly making the difference in this war by clearly displaying the message that Coalition Forces are here to help and protect the people.”
Spc. Michael Renfro keeps an eye on the crowd as Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment pass out water in the Shula neighborhood of western Baghdad. (US Army photo by 1st Lt. Mike Gilotti, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 12th Cavalry Regiment)
An Iraqi woman carries away a case of bottled water from a humanitarian mission by Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. The troops passed out water to residents of Shula, a northwest Baghdad neighborhood which has had a water crisis due to broken water mains. (US Army photo by 1st Lt. Mike Gilotti, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment)