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Iraq Takes Charge of ‘Sons of Iraq’ Citizen Security Groups

By Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq, Oct. 14, 2008 – The Iraqi government and Iraqi army officially took over the “Sons of Iraq” citizen security group program during a ceremony Oct. 12.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Iraqi soldiers salute during their national anthem at a ceremony transferring control of “Sons of Iraq” citizen security groups from coalition forces to the Iraqi government, Oct. 12, 2008. U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Christopher McKenna

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

“The villages are safer now than they have been in a long time, which makes this the best possible time to progress in the rebuilding process of our country,” said Sheik Khalaf Salos Salom al-Zobai, Yusifiyah area Sons of Iraq leader.

The past year has seen a more than 90 percent decrease in criminal activity throughout the area, resulting largely from Sons of Iraq checkpoints, officials said.

“Security in the area has gotten much better,” said Sheik Hazim Ali Hussein al-Jabouri, Zaubraniya area Sons of Iraq leader. “The [army] has improved over the past year, and we trust them more to help in the future progress of Iraq.”

The Iraqi army hosted the ceremony to commemorate the transfer of Sons of Iraq control from coalition forces. With the transfer, the Iraqi government will fund the Sons of Iraq, with coalition forces providing only an overwatch partnership.

“It is a proud day for coalition forces to see the Sons of Iraq working for the government of Iraq,” said Army Lt. Col. James Dolwick, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team. “Within the past year, the Mahmudiyah Qada has come a long way as far as peace and prosperity go.”

Over time, all Sons of Iraq members will transfer into Iraqi security forces or to technical specialty jobs.

“This day is like fruit ripening; the [Sons of Iraq] were created to fight criminals, and they have provided unlimited support in doing so,” said Sheik Mahdi Abeid Josim al-Qurairi, Lutifiyah area Sons of Iraq leader. “My area was bad a year ago, but now with the improved security, it is much safer. People can walk the streets safely for the first time in years.”

(Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna serves with the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

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