By Staff Sgt. Jody Metzger
Multi-National Division - Baghdad
BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government successfully completed its second pay period to more than 50,000 Sons of Iraq throughout Baghdad with the last payment ending on Dec. 24.
As the celebration of Eid ul Fitr wound down throughout the Muslim community, the Government of Iraq continued its goal to become independent and fully functional within their communities. Their achievement can be seen in the happy faces of those Sons of Iraq and Daughters of Iraq that wait in the line to receive payment for their duties.
This will be the second consecutive month of pay since the Iraqi government took over payment to the SoI and DoI, Oct. 1.
During the 10-day pay period which began, Dec. 15, the Government of Iraq conducted the pay period with no significant incidents or attacks at any of the pay sites. Each member received salaries of 354,000 Iraqi dinars, about $300 in U.S. currency.
Though the progress has been advancing, the GoI and the coalition forces are continuing to bring all provinces under the ministry. A southern Baghdad Qada, South Mahmudiyah is an area that is still working to integrate into the Iraqi government systems.
Currently, the coalition forces are still paying about 4,000 SoI this month but has already started the registration process for the province of Babil which will be transferred to the GoI, Jan. 1, said Lt. Col. Arnold Csan, the chief of civil affairs planning team and SoI synchronizer for 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.
"We are in the process of registering a little over 2,000 SoI – a part of Babil province, where they will transfer to the GoI. Similarly, the other 2,000 in Abu Ghraib" said Csan.
"Those Iraqis belonging to Abu Ghraib belong to the Anbar province and they are working right now on the registration packets and they will transfer to the GoI, Feb. 1," said Csan.
Initially, the Iraqi people regarded Americans as the 'bad invaders,' yet recently, with the U.S military's assistance, the Iraqi people realize Americans want is simultaneously what they are after – peace.
Csan quoted an old parable – 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. "They [Sons of Iraq] basically reached out, starting in Anbar and said 'hey, I want to stop the violence'.
"They became the local check point security. They stopped the violence in their local communities and that allowed the coalition and the ISF to go out and chase the guys that were placing bombs. They [terrorists] could no longer enjoy the freedom to go pick up their IED materials, go build a bomb in their safe house and take it down the road and place it."
The Sons of Iraq inspected everyone, including vehicles, said Csan. The anger and frustration of the Iraqi people has grown toward al-Qaida and its terrorist regime. In one such incident, extremist bombed a school that American Soldiers helped build.
"This time last year, the al-Qaida was blowing up power lines, sewer lines, water lines; that is not attacking the Americans, that is attacking the people of Iraq to disrupt their normal lives," said Csan.
Summer of last year, particularly in Anbar province and Abu Ghraib, the local prominent sheiks and local leaders were reaching out to coalition forces for help to stop al-Qaida and their violence.
"They stood up and started negotiating; the program grew and spread throughout Baghdad – all over Iraq. By January, when MND-B came in we had programs for local citizens and local volunteers. To put them all into one program, SoI and DoI, so there was one standardized pay, uniform which is tan pants, road guard belt and get some standards out there when they went out," said Csan.
As the Iraqi forces began to grow and the coalition forces began to get more security help, they found that there was also a need for female bomb searchers at some of the security check points. In January of 2008, Daughters of Iraq were incorporated into the security force. More than 345 DoI have transferred over to the GoI.
The Al Furat Iraqi Police Training Center has given SoI preferential packets into the program. Of the 1,000 students in the academy, more than 860 are SoI and are now enrolled going through the police training.
The program of the academy has ensured a generous amount of jobs for the Iraqi people who show in enthusiastic numbers; as nearly 5,000 SoI have already signed up to start the next class to become Iraqi police.
Capt. Charles Usè, primary movement operations officer, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B whose duties primarily involve the expansion and development of the Iraqi police, said the benefits of transitioning SoI into the IP are tremendous for the people and Government of Iraq.
"The greatest benefit that anyone, regardless of nationality, can enjoy from serving their nation in a time of struggle is the knowledge that they made a difference. You can see the pride on the faces of the new IP when they graduate. They know that they have made a decision of character and honor to serve and protect their country and families," he said.
Eventually the Iraqi army is going to join coalition forces outside the city and will stop being the martial law and start turning security and authority over to the local and national police, explained Csan. This is important to the Iraqi army because it is their hope that they, the Iraqi army, starts training for what the army does – tactical training.
The SoI are not only becoming absorbed into the ISF and the police academy; they are also integrating into an employment status where they're involved with Iraq's electricity, sewer as well as the basic rebuilding of communities.
"We are working it right now – one of the big programs recruiting right now is the civil service departments that are all over Baghdad. We have identified civil challenges such as water, sewer, electricity and roads; with these things, it's going to take a long time," said Csan.
"It has always been a partnership on the security front, the Iraqi army has become more and more competent," he said.