News: Different language, same skills
Story by Spc. Brian Johnson
BAGHDAD - As the U.S. military prepares to draw down in Iraq, Soldiers of the Grayling, Mich.,-based 1434th Engineer Company, 101st Eng. Battalion, 225th Eng. Brigade, are working alongside the 6th Iraqi Army Engineer Regiment to build a new operations center.
The Soldiers of both armies are working hand in hand to not only build a new operation center at al-Muthana Airfield in the Karkh district of Baghdad, but are establishing rapport between the two cultures. The old airfield, which is now being converted into a new Iraqi army base, is a prime example of many successful joint American-Iraqi engineering missions.
Sgt. 1st Class Ted Blanford, of Toledo, Ohio, said that this mission is extremely important on many levels.
"Doing a project like this helps the Soldiers of the Iraqi army feel that they have a personal hand in the reconstruction of their country. A mission such as this helps to ensure that we are leaving the Iraqi army soldiers [with the] proper training in construction techniques ... to help reconstruct their communities."
Spc. Jeff Rochefort, from Munising, Mich., noted that working with the friendly soldiers of the Iraqi army has gone really well.
"Their English is not the greatest so it's hard to understand everything, however, for the most part, they have taught us some simple terms in their language," Rochefort explained.
Rochefort mentioned that while they require some instruction on basic construction techniques Iraqi soldiers are quick to complete any task to standard.
Though culturally different, this mission has brought not just Soldiers but people from two separate backgrounds together. Soldiers from the 1434th Eng. Co. and the 6th IA Eng. Reg. are perfect examples of how to maintain friendly international relations.
"They have shown all of us the upmost respect. The Soldiers that we have been working with here are great guys and would probably give you there shirt off their back," said Rochefort.
The project at al-Muthana is expected to be complete by late October.