Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George’s County, Md., commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, sits between Maj. Gen. Kassim, commander of the 9th Iraqi army division, and Mushen Nasser, the Mada’in Qada mayor, during a security meeting, March 5, at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq.
Mushen Nasser, the Mada’in Qada mayor, talks to Pfc. Devan Elk, from Wayland, N.Y., Headquarters Troop, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, as Elk uncovers containers of food after a security meeting, March 5, at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq.
Capt. Jimmy Hathaway, from Columbus, Ga., commander of Task Force Petro, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s Georgian Army liaison team, fills his plate after a security meeting, March 5, at Forward Operating Hammer, Iraq.
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team,
3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Coalition leaders from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team met with leaders of the Iraqi security forces in the Mada’in Qada, March 5, at Forward Operating Base Hammer.
Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., commander of the 3rd HBCT, hosted the meeting to discuss security in the qada, the brigade’s area of operation, and to welcome Maj. Gen. Kassim, commander of the 9th Iraqi army division.
“From this day on, you are part of this family,” said Grigsby, from Prince George’s County, Md. “We are all working together to support the mayor and the good people of the Mada’in Qada.”
Mushen Nasser, mayor of the qada, said residents were happy with the arrival of the IA.
“They have a very positive idea of the Iraqi army and are expecting a lot of stuff to get done with them here,” Nasser said.
Grigsby told Kassim the purpose of such meetings is to synchronize all security efforts of coalition forces, ISF and government and local leadership.
“This is a joint effort,” Kassim added. “There is no singular leadership.”
Kassim explained future plans he has for his soldiers to improve the qada, including opening currently closed routes to allow for more freedom of movement.
“I want to work to provide as many services as I can,” Kassim said.
Grigsby explained the current focus of coalition and Iraq security forces is Salman Pak. One issue is promoting awareness of the city’s improved security.
The people of Salman Pak need to have a positive perception of security operations in their city, said Grigsby. Salman Pak has improved security and citizens can actually see security operations unfold in their area, he said.
Grigsby believes getting the word out will bring more Government of Iraq officials to the qada.
According to Maj. David Fivecoat, from Delaware, Ohio, the 3rd HBCT’s operations officer, there has been only five murders in the past month compared to the 37 murders in May 2007, when the brigade first arrived to the area. There have been less than one attack per day in the last few weeks and the 3rd HBCT has only fired one counter-fire mission since late January.
“A lot of great stuff is happening in Salman Pak right now,” said Lt. Col. Jack Marr, from Minneapolis, commander of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently tasked with securing the city. “Work is being done largely by people who live in Salman Pak. Every day they are requiring less help from coalition forces. We didn’t do everything in one day. It took many days to get where we are. We had a plan, explained our plan, and lived up to our plan and we can’t race to get ahead of ourselves.”
Grigsby was happy with the outcome of the meeting.
“These meetings get better each time we have them,” he said. “This one has been exceptional. We have an extreme amount of momentum and we need to take advantage of the IA here.”
The 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.