Judge Razaq Jabbar Alwan (left), chief investigative judge of the Mada'in Qada, speaks with Spc. Ryan Burkholder (center), from Houston, the current rule of law expert for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and Col. Doug House, from Little Rock, Ark., Burkholder's replacement with the Baghdad-8 embedded provincial reconstruction team, during a meeting at the courthouse in Jisr Diyala, Iraq, on April 8.
By Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Col. Doug House, a military lawyer assigned to the Baghdad-8 embedded provincial reconstruction team, attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, met with three judges at the courthouse in Jisr Diyala to gauge their needs on April 8.
Judge Razaq Jabbar Alwan, chief investigative judge of the qada, welcomed House.
“I am glad that you are here and we have the opportunity to meet you,” Alwan said. “It is because of people like you that we are all sitting here in my office today. Your country has helped my country a great deal.”
The current judicial expert for the 3rd BCT believes House, a native of Little Rock, Ark., will be able to work with the judges to facilitate their permanent return to the courthouse in Salman Pak.
“I thought Col. House made a good impression on the judges,” said Spc. Ryan Burkholder, a native of Houston. “After an hour of discussion, he was able to work through some issues.”
Before joining the Army to become a cavalry scout, Burkholder was a practicing attorney in Texas. During the current deployment, he was assigned to the 3rd BCT’s staff and appointed as rule of law chief for the brigade, despite being a lower-enlisted Soldier. Over the past year, Burkholder has worked with judges in the Mada’in Qada and Baghdad to help return rule of law to the area.
“He has done his job quietly and well,” said Maj. James Carlisle, from West Palm Beach, Fla., Burkholder’s supervisor. “He represents the stellar caliber of young men and women in the Army that makes it the best army in the world.”
Burkholder was proud of the role he played in bringing the judicial branch back to the qada and said House would be the perfect person to replace him.
“We have seen a significant decrease in violent crimes since the judges have come back,” Burkholder said. “Before, when someone was arrested, there was no transparency. People were arrested and they would disappear. Some would come back and some wouldn’t, but people couldn’t see rule of law in action.
“People now know that when they do things wrong here, they will have to sit before the judge,” he said. “I believe that is deterring a lot of crimes from happening.”
The 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, is from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007