March 10, 2008 —
Spc. Gregory Touzani and Pfc. Troy Buford pose with children in Hamiya, Iraq, March 1. (U.S. Army photo)
FOB KALSU, Iraq (March 7, 2008) — There were no doors being kicked in and no shots being fired in Hamiya, Iraq, the day of the patrol. Soldiers were geared up and prepared for anything. They had pockets full of toys and candy for children who approached them as adults greeted them with smiles.
March 1 was a typical day for Soldiers in Company A, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“You can really see how much it means to the locals when we give out the humanitarian aid bags,” said 1st Lt. Chris Blom, executive officer for Company A. “They are so grateful and appreciative of what we are doing for them and they can see that we are really here to help them.”
Soldiers on the ground know every action has a reaction. Everything they do brings about some kind of response from local residents they pass throughout the day, said 1st Lt. Ryan Daly, 2nd Platoon leader, Co. A.
The purpose of the patrol March 1 was to strengthen relations with the Hamiyah City Council and local residents, Daly said. Soldiers discussed improving ties between the Hamiyah City Council and the Jurf Nahia Council. They also discussed the progress of new and existing projects to improve local infrastructure and the importance of maintaining security.
During the first hour of the patrol, Soldiers and city council members discussed key town issues. The focus was on sending two representatives, Jabar Mohammed Naif and Kasim Fadil Abid, from the Hamiyah Council to the Jurf Nahia meeting.
It is a necessary step to cement the framework of the Iraqi government beyond the presence of coalition forces, Daly said.
Projects to benefit area children were also discussed. Rasoul, an engineer and a council member, is working with 2nd Platoon to make improvements to the Mustaffa Secondary School. The town is also working on larger projects, including future construction of a school and repairs to the water distribution system.
On the last two hours of the patrol, Soldiers worked with the Iraqi Organization for Motherhood, Childhood and the Handicapped. They met with Kasim, a council member and main spokesperson for the group. Soldiers heard the group’s needs and plan to make frequent trips to deliver food, school supplies and basic medical supplies to aid area residents, Daly said.