Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers Provide Medical Aid
By Spc. C. Terrell Turner, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, April 20, 2006 While the fight against enemy insurgents continues, Iraqi and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers provided medical and humanitarian relief to local nationals caught in the middle and those without means to provide care for themselves.
Army Sgt. Allen Hill, a civil affairs specialist with Company A, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, hands out humanitarian supplies to local residents. An Iraqi translator and members of the Iraqi army assisted the soldiers during a medical operation at the Taji soccer stadium April 11. Photo by Spc. C. Terrell Turner, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Iraqi soldiers secured the immediate area as the U.S. soldiers provided desperately needed care at the Taji soccer stadium April 11.
After arriving at the location, the soldiers secured the surrounding area and set security checkpoints to ensure safety and security for local nationals entering the area for treatment. MNDB soldiers then drove around broadcasting a message in Arabic to let people know about the operation and invite them to seek help.
As coalition and Iraqi medics provided care, physician assistants diagnosed problems, and dental technicians saw patients needing dental care.
"We're here to provide medical aid to local nationals, specifically the ones who live in the local Fedayeen camp," said Army Capt. Casey Coyle, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
He said the medical teams treated about 300 people. Most ailments the teams treated were skin infections and nose and chest congestion problems, Coyle said.
During the mission, civil affairs and Iraqi army personnel provided humanitarian supplies to locals after the families received medical care. "Our mission was to distribute humanitarian assistance," said Army Master Sgt. Ronnie Reece, civil affairs noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Company A, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. "And if any of the area tribal leaders come, we engage them about economic, security and infrastructure issues."
The clothing, office supplies and soccer balls were donated by an assortment of organizations. Locals who took part in the operation were pleased about the care and assistance they received.
"I appreciate the help. I had eye trouble and back pain, and they gave me some medicine," Nehiah, a local woman, said. "Someone told us the American soldiers were here to help, and I came. God bless them."
Iraqi soldiers handed out water to those waiting in line to receive treatment and provide assurances to the people. "It's a good day. We like to help the people and give them what they need," said Barry, an Iraqi army platoon sergeant from the Nassariya area. "I think they need more stuff: some new medicines, clean water and power to live a better life. I hope that we can provide that for all the people in the future."
As much help as the people receive, there are limits on what coalition forces can provide at one time.
"This is the sixth or seventh (mission like this) we've done. It's always very positive when we do this," Reece said. "The hardest part is whenever we run out of supplies and we have to turn people away. Over the last year, we've incorporated the Iraqi army. It fosters positive relations between the Iraqi army and local nationals."
For Spc. Khalid Bouassel, heavy vehicle mechanic with Company B, 4th Support Battalion, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., the translator work he did with the local nationals felt good. "It was a good day. There were a lot of families here -- mothers, kids and pregnant women," he said. "There were a lot eye problems and infections. Some people came here for treatment from injuries from a mortar attack. It's a good idea, and I look forward to coming out to help as much as possible."
(Army Spc. C. Terrell Turner is assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.)