By Army Sgt. Dustin Roberts
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 13, 2009 - In their first engagement on Camp Liberty, Multinational Division Baghdad leaders serving with the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team met April 11 with the staff of the 6th Iraqi Army Division's 24th Brigade. The leaders, who help to secure the population west of Baghdad, ate dinner together before a joint meeting focused on nonlethal efforts.
"I appreciate all of the hard work the brigade has made for the people in the 'Dagger' brigade's area of operations," Iraqi Lt. Col. Qassim of the 24th Brigade said. "These projects are great for the security effort and for humanitarian services."
Since the Dagger Brigade arrived in October, numerous projects in essential services have been completed throughout the brigade's operational environment, and plans for projects are scheduled to continue for the remainder of the brigade's time in Iraq.
As the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers sat around the conference room table, they discussed how they are going to communicate more often when it comes to building projects.
"From my point of view, the [Iraqi army] lacks information for projects the Dagger Brigade is doing in our area," Qassim said. "If we can work on these projects together, then we will be able to provide more security for the projects."
Qassim said Iraqi soldiers would be sure contractors present their identification and credentials, ensuring the contractors do not contribute to terrorism in any way.
The security partners shared mutual goals, agreeing that local residents need to know how the Iraqi and coalition forces are working together to rid Baghdad of criminal activity and make their lives easier through rebuilding projects. The group also talked about accomplished projects, including various school refurbishments and humanitarian aid drops.
"Americans have donated 20 to 40 tons of school supplies, soccer balls and toys to give to the citizens here," Army Col. Joseph Martin, commander of the 2nd Brigade, said. "This shows that humanitarianism is far more persuading than the dwindling insurgents in Iraq."
As the meeting came to a close and the respective leaders saluted one another, Martin wrapped up by saying work remains to be done.
"We will continue to work together in this effort," he said. "We are one team, and we are here to help the people."
Iraqi Lt. Col. Yasser, also with the 24th Brigade, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to visit the Dagger Brigade.
"Every time I ask you a question, I always get an answer," Yasser said to Martin. "I appreciate the invitation to your headquarters and for us to able to share information."
(Army Sgt. Dustin Roberts serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)