By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Leaders of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment welcomed the newly-arrived 13th Light Infantry Battalion, 1st Georgian Brigade to their new area of operations in Wahida Feb. 3.
Maj. David Sulkhanishvili, battalion commander, and the battalion company commanders attended the meeting to introduce themselves to local nahia leaders, including Juwad Kadnam al Shimari, president of the nahia council.
“This is the first step and the most important step,” Sulkhanishvili told the Iraqi leaders through a translator. “We look forward to working with you in the future.”
Before sitting down to a lunch prepared by 1-15th Inf. Regt. cooks, the group shared introductions and goals for the future.
“We are all here working for the service of Iraq,” Juwad said through a translator. “We will welcome the Georgians the same way we welcomed the Americans.”
Juwad said he anticipates the same support from the 13th LI Battalion he has seen from 1-15th Inf. Regt., specifically Company C, which has lived in Wehida since the beginning of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s deployment to the Mada’in Qada in April 2007.
“The American Forces’ work has been very successful in both security and services,” Abdul Munem Mussen, nahia civil affairs leader, said through a translator. “We are thankful for everything the allied forces have done for us and I am hoping the same can come from the Georgians as did the Americans.”
Lt. Col. Jack Marr, from Minneapolis, commander of 1-15th Inf. Regt., said the Georgian army has worked with U.S. forces to secure areas of Iraq almost since the beginning of the war.
“With the Georgians, there will be more forces to assist you with security and help you with projects,” Marr told the Iraqi leaders.
When lunch was over and the Iraqi leadership parted, Georgian leaders received a familiarization briefing from 1-15 Inf. Regt. leaders.
“This meeting is to get familiar with the mission and what U.S. Forces were doing in the (area of operation),” Sulkhanishvili said through a translator. “My vision is to continue the way they have been doing things, but, of course, there is always a chance to improve the relationships, the mission and the ground operations.”
The 1-15 Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.