Story by 2nd Lt. Andrew Cotter, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
BAGHDAD—U.S. forces have been conducting humanitarian aid missions in Iraq for years, providing everything from basic medical assistance to handing out soccer balls to children. These used to be entirely or primarily U.S.-led missions. However, under Operation New Dawn, Iraqi Federal Police units are now taking the lead to help make their neighborhoods a better place to live.
On Jan. 15, Soldiers with 1st “Steel” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center partnered with the 1st Iraqi Federal Police Division forces to conduct a large humanitarian mission in eastern Baghdad. The intent of the mission was to build civilian trust and confidence in local Federal Police battalions and to provide much needed aid to neighborhoods in Baghdad. The missions also help build stronger relationships between civil leaders, Iraqi nongovernmental organizations and the 1st FP Div.
Early that morning, the 1st FP Div. arrived at Joint Security Station Loyalty, home of the 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., with a convoy of flatbed trucks. These trucks were loaded with soccer balls, school supplies, water bottles, water purifiers and medical supplies. Once everything was loaded, the FP officers, along with a small contingent of U.S. Soldiers for security, set out for the Abtal Al Taf School in Muhallah.
Iraqi Security Forces were in the lead, from initial planning through site security and the actual execution of the operation.
“Stay back and let us work,” said Col. Mohammad Jawed, the ranking Iraqi officer at the aid drop, when Maj. Kevin Taylor, the operations officer with 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., asked what the U.S. troops could do to help.
Crowds from all over Muhallah braved the cold and windy morning to receive the aid items. Iraqi forces marshaled the crowd and spent the next two hours distributing the items to the grateful children and families.
American forces also benefitted by being able to evaluate their Iraqi counterparts as they conducted a successful large-scale operation.
“The operation to bring humanitarian aid to Muhallah provided an excellent opportunity to display the capabilities of the (Iraqi Security Forces) to the civilian residents of Baghdad,” said Capt. John Morgan, commander of Battery B, 1st Bn. 7th FA Regt. “Members of the 1st FP Div. were able to go into their area of responsibility and deliver a discernable, positive impact on the daily lives of the Iraqi people.”