Sons of Iraq in Warij stand guard at a checkpoint on April 22. The Warij SoI program is composed of both Sunni and Shia residents. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Stadel)
FOB KALSU, Iraq (April 23, 2008) – One hundred and fifty residents of Warij volunteered to become Sons of Iraq on April 12.
On April 20, the new SoI began guarding a stretch of the southern Baghdad community, which falls in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division’s area of operation.
The Warij program is unique in its make-up.
“It is the only area within the brigade that has both sects operating jointly at SoI checkpoints,” said Capt. Gregory Curry, commander of Troop A, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. “It is the so-called ‘check and balance’ that we need to move forward with the people of Iraq seeing each other as equal and not as Sunni and Shia.”
First Lt. Dan Henry, executive officer of Troop A, said criminals have threatened business owners in the area and used Warij as an area to coordinate and execute attacks against the government of Iraq, coalition forces and Iraqi security forces.
Curry, a native of Walnut Creek, Ohio, said the Sunni and Shia SoI working together would help quell the violence that had plagued the community.
Two sheiks, one Sunni and one Shia, will collectively manage the Warij SoI command post and monitor checkpoints throughout the area.
Curry said the sheiks realize they need to set aside their differences for Warij to be a safe community.
Coalition force leaders hope the example in Warij of Sunni and Shia working together will encourage citizens who fled during the violence to move back to their homes.
“The importance of this program is that it will enhance the perception of security to where families will return to their homes and establish another multi-ethnic, multi-tribal and peaceful population center in the Spartan (2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.) operating environment,” said Maj. Rob Kaderavek, from Green Bay, Wis., 6-8th Cav. Regt. executive officer.
Along with 6-8th Cav. Regt., the 5th Battalion, 25th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, will monitor the SoI group.
Kaderavek said the IA division has been an integral part of the SoI program and helps monitor and supervise the SoI checkpoints.