News: Reaching Out in Iraqi Villages
Story by Spc. Aaron Rosencrans
By Spc. Aaron L. Rosencrans
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
SHEIK AMIR, Iraq — Soldiers from the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Phoenix, reached out to Iraqis during a Mobile Civil Military Operations Center mission Jan. 17 in an effort to help rebuild a community that has faced hardships. The mission took place in an area north of Baghdad.
"CMOC missions provide the locals an opportunity to request payment or reimbursement for damages caused by coalition forces," said Comfort, W.Va., native, Maj. Ed Bowdish, civil affairs team leader with Company A, 492nd Civil Affairs Bn. "This mission helps the locals pay for damages we've done, so they don't have to pay for all of it out of pocket."
These events vary in size depending on the size of the community and the activities in each area, said Killeen, Texas, native, Staff Sgt. Aaron Perry, team sergeant, with the 492nd Civil Affairs Bn.
"I've seen between 40 and 150 people come to these centers," said Perry. "This was the seventh CMOC I've been to."
Perry said the locals submit a claim at the CMOC, the paperwork then goes to the legal office for analysis. The legal office then decides whether or not they will give payment for the claim, and the people are notified and required to travel to Camp Taji for payment, Perry said.
"There are plans to bring the pay to the locals, but that is still in the process of changing," said Perry.
Both Perry and Bowdish agreed this mission was about building relationships with the Iraqis.
"These missions give us an opportunity to make up for accidents that happen during a time of war," said Bowdish. "They show we care about the wellbeing of the locals. However, it is not an admission of guilt."
This particular mission was also used as a teaching tool for the Iraqi army civil affairs soldiers, said Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Lt. Col. Richard "Flip" Wilson, commander, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Warrior," 25th Infantry Division.
The event was held at the remains of an old school that was blown up by terrorists not long ago. The school had only one room that was partially destroyed.