War on Terrorism

Monday, August 31, 2009

Commander Engages Iraqi Sheiks, Finds Common Ground

By Army 2nd Lt. Sophia Volz
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 31, 2009 - Fostering good working relationships with Iraqi counterparts is an integral part of mission success here. Just as soldiers no longer go into the cities without Iraqi security forces partners, Contingency Operating Base Adder no longer can function efficiently without engaging local sheiks and key leaders. This is especially true for the base's garrison command, manned by the 1st Armored Division's 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, and spearheaded by its commander, Army Lt. Col. Alan Shumate of Fayetteville, N.C.

Recognizing the need to find common ground and a good working relationship with U.S. forces, Sheik Ali al-Manshed of the Al Ghezy tribe met with Shumate recently to discuss matters important to both. "We would wish only that we can be friends," Ali said.

Shumate and 4th STB soldiers also visited Ali's house for lunch with sheiks from the Al Ghezy tribe. For many of the soldiers, it was their first authentic Iraqi meal of kebabs, a lamb and rice dish called "uzi," Iraqi flatbreads, fish, fruits and dates.

Shumate also met with Ali's brother, Sheik Tayseer Mohammed al-Manshed. During the hours they spent together, Shumate and Tayseer discussed issues including base security and water delivery. They not only dealt with business, but also found time to discuss their families, with Shumate proudly showing pictures of his two sons.

"Engaging these local sheiks is important," Shumate said. "Without engaging such important leaders, base security and operations cannot be assured, and the mission of the brigade combat team to assist in building a sustainable Iraq in [its] area of responsibility cannot be achieved."

(Army 2nd Lt. Sophia Volz serves in Multinational Division South with the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)

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