Gen. Jamal Tahir, Kirkuk provincial police chief, and Col. David Paschal, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, render honors as the Iraqi national anthem is played before a Sons of Iraq contract-signing ceremony at the Bushariya Iraqi police station, 20 miles south of Kirkuk, on April 7. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet)
KIRKUK, Iraq (April 14, 2008) — A Sons of Iraq contract-signing ceremony was held on April 7, representing more than 500 citizens in Kirkuk province.
Iraqi security forces, coalition forces, local tribal leaders and SoI members were on-hand to witness the signing of two SoI contracts representing over 500 members at the Bushariya Iraqi police station, approximately 20 miles south of Kirkuk.
The new members complete 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s efforts in employing 2,000 SoI members in the upper-Rashaad Valley to help protect its citizens from insurgent violence.
Sheik Haddi Ghadda and Sheik Munthir signed the contracts for their respective members. Following the signing, the SoI members recited the SoI oath, pledging their support to the Iraqi security forces and their commitment to protect their citizens against extremist violence.
“These gentlemen are answering the call to service and honorably aiding all of us in improving the security in the area,” Lt. Col. Dennis Sullivan, commander, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division said. “Together their men will serve with courage. It will not always be an easy task, but they are ready, and will succeed. May you both lead your men with courage!”
Gen. Jamal Tahir, the Kirkuk provincial police chief, also addressed the new SoI members. Jamal cited the successes of the SoIs in helping to bring peace and stability to the neighboring Hawijah district, which has recently seen a dramatic 70 percent drop in violent activities since standing up in December 2007.
“You must remain vigilant. The successes of your SoI brothers have the terrorists running in fear. They will target you because you threaten their activities. I applaud your bravery and courage as you go and protect your neighborhoods.”
Sheik Sami Al-Assi, a Sunni-Arab tribal leader from the Obeidi tribe, also addressed the audience during the ceremony.
“I would ask that all of you continue to unite and fight together as one against those terrorists who seek to divide us,” said Sheik Sami. “Kirkuk is the responsibility of everyone – Arab, Kurd, Assyrian and Turkmen alike. We must continue to work together in bringing prosperity that our citizens deserve.”
Sheik Sami continued by urging all citizens to participate in the political process so that everyone’s voice can be heard. He also encouraged those still supporting the insurgency to join in reconciliation efforts so that they can rejoin Iraqi society.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team currently employs over 10,000 Sons of Iraq citizens that provide support to Iraqi security forces and security to their local neighborhoods.