Lt. Col. Dennis Sullivan congratulates one of the Sons of Iraq leaders after signing a contract at a middle school near Rashadd, about 30 miles south of Kirkuk, May 19. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Sean Wilson)
KIRKUK (May 21, 2008) — About 75 new Sons of Iraq members watched as their leaders signed three Sons of Iraq contracts in a ceremony in the Ta’mim Province May 19.
Iraqi Security Forces, Coalition forces, local tribal leaders and Sons of Iraq members were on hand to witness the signing of three SOI contracts, representing more than 600 hundred SOI members, at the Jawalla Middle School in Rashaad, 48 kilometers south of Kirkuk.
The new members complete 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s efforts in employing 2,000 SOI members in the Rashaad Valley to help protect its citizens from insurgents’ violence.
“Today is a very important day, and my people have waited a long time for this opportunity to protect our neighborhoods,” said Hassam Archer Salih. “We want to be a part of a new Iraq, and to help bring peace and prosperity to our communities.”
Dari Salman Khalaf, Hassam Archer Salih and Gaze Thappl Talub signed the contracts for their respective SOI members.
Following the signing, the SOI members recited the SOI Oath; pledging their support to the ISF and their commitment to protect their citizens against extremist violence.
“Today marks yet another milestone on the road to improved local security, stability and normalcy. It is the continued support of the ISF, local leaders, and most importantly, the local villagers who have made security and the benefits which come with it a reality,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Sullivan, commander 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry regiment, 10th Mountain Division.
The Sons of Iraq have been attributed with helping in the reduction of violent activities in the Ta’mim Province. There has been a 60 percent decrease since the SOI inception, early December 2007. Furthermore, there has been almost an 80 percent drop in violence in the neighboring Hawijah District, once called the “Anbar of the north,” according to Col. David Paschal, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.