NEWS | July 8, 2008

Iraqi police distribute food in Zuwarijat

By Sgt. Daniel T. West , 214th Fires Brigade

An Iraqi policeman gives a bag of food to a girl in the Zuwarijat district of al Kut, Iraq, July 3.
An Iraqi policeman gives a bag of food to a girl in the Zuwarijat district of al Kut, Iraq, July 3.

FOB DELTA, Iraq – Iraqi police distributed bulk food products to citizens of the Zuwarijat district of al Kut as part of an outreach program to increase confidence in Iraqi security forces July 3.

Supplies distributed at the event included rice, packets of noodles, canned goods and shelf-stable milk.

“The overall purpose of the humanitarian aid drop is to show that IPs are improving relationships with the community by distributing food that some cannot afford to purchase themselves,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Martinez of the 511th Military Police Co., from Fort Drum, N.Y. “It helps with improving the trust of the people in their ISF.”

The event built on gains the ISF made with the populace since first operating in the area in late April. Security gains were evident immediately after occupying three security stations in the district.

“The security of the area has improved tremendously,” said Martinez. “There has not been a lot of activity from the area since the integration of IPs and IA in April.”

This move into Zuwarijat marked the first time the ISF in Wasit province established a lasting presence in a district. Zuwarijat was chosen because it had historically been a Jaysh al Mahdi stronghold.

Just days after the occupation, people of the district began bringing food and water to the stations, and the ISF began to see an increase in tips from the populace, said IP captain, Hayder Adnan Ali Al-Saidy.

The progress was immediate, and the cooperation between the Iraqi army and IP continues to contribute to build security, said Martinez.

“Instead of working as two separate units they are functioning as one, which has helped improve the neighborhood a lot,” he said.

After the food distribution, elements of the 511th, which helped provide security for the event, visited the three security sites in the district to evaluate the needs of the ISF members and assess the state of the stations.

The people in the district did raise concerns about the delays they encounter at security checkpoints.

Staff Sgt. Erik Golden, of the 511th MP Co., emphasized the need to remain professional and for the police to work as a team to 1st Lt. Oday, commander of station 14 in Zuwarijat.

“We tell them ‘we’re here to save you and for your protection,’” Oday said. “Some are happy with our help, some are still angry. We can’t satisfy everyone.”

He remained positive about the lasting presence in Zuwarijat.

“There’s a good kind of people here,” he said. “Some are angry, many are nervous, and others are very confident when they deal with us … Some are happy we are here to help protect them.

“We’ll do our jobs,” he said.