By Spc. Ben Hutto, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 7, 2008 - Soldiers from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team delivered 240 cases of bottled water March 5 to a town east of Baghdad. The soldiers brought the water to the "Sons of Iraq" citizen security group's headquarters in Narhwan for distribution.
"Water is very important here," said Army Sgt. Lucas Walrod, from Panama, N.Y., a squad leader in Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, currently attached to 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery. "There is a shortage of potable water here, so it is greatly appreciated when we deliver it. It is one of the main ways we help the community."
Walrod said the Sons of Iraq will play a key role by distributing the water to the town's residents. In previous operations, Troop B distributed the water themselves, but many citizens were unable to attend the water drops.
"We deliver it here, and Sheik Kasum (the leader of the Narhwan Sons of Iraq) hands it out to the people who need it," Walrod said. "The Sons of Iraq have an unbiased system of getting it out to all the people here. ... They are really good at it, because they are from here and know the people they are helping.
"Having the Sons of Iraq deliver it also adds to their legitimacy here," he continued. "The people can actually see that the group is here to help them when they do things like deliver water."
Kasum said he uses 40 different agents to identify needy families and distribute food to them. The agents use a ration card system to ensure that each family is getting the amount they require and to limit people from stockpiling more than they need.
Soldiers say the roads in Narhwan are secure because of the performance of the Sons of Iraq and goodwill brought about by projects like water and food drops.
"I get a good feeling coming down here, because the routes are secure," said Army 1st Lt. Jose Mendoza, from Fresno, Calif., a platoon leader from Company G, 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, currently attached to 1-10th FA. "I have not been shot at or hit by an (improvised explosive device) this entire deployment. I credit the clearance teams and soldiers for making sure the routes are secure, but the Sons of Iraq checkpoints have played a big part in the security of the roads here as well. They have been doing a good job and are working with us."
(Army Spc. Ben Hutto serves with the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)