Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Tanya Thomas, 4th AAB, 3rd Inf. Div., USD-C
HAMDIYAH, Iraq—Violence in Iraq has caused several thousand citizens to flee their hometowns since 2003. Many left behind the only place they’ve ever known, to save their lives and to protect the lives of their families. Some left the country altogether, and others found safer regions within Iraq’s borders with hope they can live peacefully in their native land.
About 50 internally displaced Iraqi families now reside in Hamdiyah, Iraq, and the local Iraqi Police, with the assistance of Soldiers with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, are helping to support these citizens as well as families of fallen Iraqi Police officers who also live in the area.
The combined forces conducted a humanitarian assistance mission Jan. 8 in a Hamdiyah village, distributing hundreds of bags of rice, lentils and blankets, space heaters, cooking oil and stuffed animals to families in need.
Capt. Edward Goldner, commander of Company D, 3rd Bn., 15th Inf. Regt., said his Soldiers work with the Hamdiyah area Iraqi Police on a frequent basis, training their counterparts to work independently once the U.S. military withdraws completely from Iraq. He said he is confident that the Iraqi Police will be able to conduct humanitarian assistance missions on their own in the future.
“The Hamdiyah IP chief, Lt. Col. Juma, has an excellent working relationship with the city council representative for the area,” Goldner said. “These two leaders have a clear understanding of how to work together to execute an aid mission on their own.”
Aside from providing security for the mission, Goldner’s troops mostly met with the local residents and observed as the Hamdiyah police led the seemingly smooth humanitarian assistance operation.
“The Hamdiyah (Iraqi Police) are competent and capable of providing security for an event like this in the future,” Goldner said.
Helping to prevent violence in Hamdiyah, the Iraqi police also handed out “TIP” cards, with phone numbers to call to report criminal activity, as an avenue toward a more secure and stable Iraq.
“Helping the citizens gives them hope that democracy can be successful, and helps them believe in the (Iraqi Security Forces),” Goldner said. “It’s only with a combined effort between the citizens and the ISF that peace will be maintained in the country.”