Friday, January 22, 2010
Iraqi Border Guards Reach Out to School Children
By Army 1st Lt. Juan Torres
Special to American Forces Press Service
Jan. 22, 2010 - Members of the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement's 2nd Battalion, 11th Brigade, make a point of visiting local schools to hand out gifts to students as part of their efforts to develop relationships with the remote villages of the southern Maysan province. "It's important to stay connected with the villages around us," said Lt. Col. Abdul Hasan. "The locals can help us report smugglers and make the area safer for everyone."
Securing the border is the DBE's main priority, and in some of the remote marshland villages, the local residents perform a "neighborhood watch" role to assist them. Though partnered with the U.S. Army's 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment "Sabers," the DBE's 11th Brigade, like many other units of the Iraqi security forces, now independently conducts operations that once would have been spearheaded by American troops.
Mornings such as Jan. 10 in the village of Baeda, where more than 250 children received soccer balls and T-shirts, are a prime example.
Two schools were chosen for the trip, during which the border guards worked with the country's most vital resource: the children who are the future of Iraq.
"The smiles of the children make me look forward to future visits and offering gifts," Hasan said.
These visits allow the children to put faces to the men committed to guarding their future. More importantly, they allow even the youngest to see their own countrymen taking the lead.
Hundreds of smiles filled the room as the visit came to a close, school let out, and the children headed home to their families with soccer balls in hand.
"I am very thankful for the soldiers who work to keep us safe," one child said.
(Army 1st Lt. Juan Torres Jr. serves with 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment.)