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Commanding General visits troops, key leaders across Iraq

By Sgt. Anna Pongo CJTFOIR

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BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, the commanding general of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve, the 1st Infantry Division, conducts battlefield circulations (BFCs) across Iraq to visit with Coalition service members and his Iraqi partners. 
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Martin, the commanding general of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, talks with Iraqi soldiers about the importance of the their training during a visit at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, April 5, 2017. The Spanish army provides specialist training at Camp Besmaya, one of four Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi security forces. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Anna Pongo)
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Martin, the commanding general of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, talks with Iraqi soldiers about the importance of the their training during a visit at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, April 5, 2017. The Spanish army provides specialist training at Camp Besmaya, one of four Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi security forces. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Anna Pongo)
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Martin, the commanding general of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, talks with Iraqi soldiers about the importance of the their training during a visit at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, April 5, 2017. The Spanish army provides specialist training at Camp Besmaya, one of four Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi security forces. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Anna Pongo) Commanding General visits troops, key leaders across Iraq
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Martin, the commanding general of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, talks with Iraqi soldiers about the importance of the their training during a visit at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, April 5, 2017. The Spanish army provides specialist training at Camp Besmaya, one of four Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity locations dedicated to training Iraqi security forces. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Anna Pongo)


"One hour of BFCs is worth ten hours of reports, briefings and e-mails," said Martin. "You see things with your own eyes. You get to interact with people. You get to influence people." 

Through meeting key leaders, visiting the troops and viewing training progress for Iraqi Security Forces at Building Partner Capacity sites, units get quality time to bring up points to Martin that they think he needs to know. 

"I just like talking to Soldiers," Martin said. "That's how I get my energy. I like talking about their backgrounds, I like asking about why they serve and I like finding out about the problems they're having."

When he meets troops on his trips, Martin said he tries to get one message to them: "They're all special no matter what they're doing. And if they're not doing their jobs, we can't do our job."

"I try to show them how their job relates to us defeating Da'esh so that they see that they're having an impact on the operation here," Martin added.

Martin said that human interaction is priceless, especially when meeting with his Iraqi counterparts. 

"They don't communicate any other way, other than person to person," Martin said. "Having the ability to read someone's body language allows you to understand how they feel about a topic. The face-to-face contact helps build the relationship and trust." 

Martin has made many trips across Iraq but he says the most memorable experience he has had was his trip to east Mosul after its liberation from ISIS control. It will also stay as one of the most meaningful memories of his life, he said. 

"We got (to Iraq) and the Iraqi Security Forces and the east Moslawis were fighting for their lives under the tyranny and oppression of Da'esh," Martin said. "And when the Iraqis liberated east Mosul, I looked forward to going in so I could talk to people."

On the visit he got to see markets reopening, houses being rebuilt and children returning to school. 
"I met an old man in the market," Martin remembered. "He's one of those people who sits in his chair all day and watches people walk past. The market life bustling by is his entertainment. If you think about it, he has lived through so much.

"He said something to me I'll never forget. He said he has hope in Iraq for the first time in 40 years. If you think about it, he's at least 80 years old… So him saying that, is powerful. Think about it, hope for the first time in decades." 

"It was because the ISF liberated east Mosul, but it was also because of our advisors and our joint Coalition fires delivering capability to the Iraqis. And they will, through our support, see that liberation happen. That was a day I'll never forget."