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    Iraqi civil defense corps commander lives a legacy

    QAYYARAH, IRAQ

    06.15.2004

    Courtesy Story

    1-230th Cavalry Regiment

    By Sgt. Fred Minnick

    QAYRRAH, Iraq -- When Lt. Col. Ali Hussein was growing up in Qayarrah, Iraq, he admired his uncle, Fahthel, who was a former warrant officer in the Iraqi army. He and his 11 siblings would gather at Fahthel's home and listen to courageous war stories.

    "Everything about my uncle fascinated me, and early on I knew I wanted to be a soldier just like him," said Hussein, 40, commander of the 102nd Battalion, Iraqi civil defense corps in Qayarrah. "He looked so good in his uniform and he was always excited to serve Iraq."

    Thirty years after choosing his career path, Hussein shares his uncle's love for Iraq and the honor of being a soldier. His military career began in 1984 at the Baghdad Military Academy, where he trained with future officers from Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. A veteran of three Iraqi wars, Ali commanded three battalions for the former Iraqi army and conducted secret operations in the Iraq-Iran War.

    Today, Hussein is fighting a different type of a war. The enemy hides in crowds and fires on Soldiers and Iraq security forces; he plants roadside bombs on streets where innocent Iraqi citizens drive everyday. Terrorists are keeping Iraq from reaching its potential, he said, but he does not plan on letting the terrorists succeed.

    Hussein's men conduct daily patrols throughout the Tigris River Valley area. They have successfully completed five major raids and captured more than 20 people suspected of attacking Iraq security and coalition forces. The 102nd Battalion soldiers also escort fuel trucks and are occasionally integrated with coalition forces for large-scale missions.

    "We've been on raids that the ICDC soldiers led us directly to the target house and there would be five people in the home. They knew exactly who we needed to detain, because this is their backyard and they know the area well," said Capt. Matthew Lillibridge, ICDC liaison officer for the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team). "All of the things the 102nd has accomplished can be directly attributed to Lt. Col. Ali Hussein."

    At first, working with Coalition forces was difficult for Hussein.

    "When I first began to work with coalition forces, my people called me a traitor to my country," Ali remembered. "Now after they've seen all the good things we're doing, they compliment me and thank my soldiers for protecting them."

    In April, residents of Qayarrah were protesting the events in Fallujah. To avoid a confrontation, Hussein called a meeting with the political, religious and tribal leaders of the area.

    "After this meeting, the activity really died down," said Capt. Ed Larkin, civil affairs officer for the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment. "Whatever he said to them, he fixed the problem."

    Hussein simply reassured his people that they were safe under his watch.

    "This battalion is ready to handle all of the security issues in this area," he said. "I am so proud of my men. When we escort the fuel trucks, we are in control, and when we conduct raids, we are sending a message to the terrorists. I have no doubt that my men can handle any responsibility given to them."

    The pride Ali Hussein has for his men is felt by all who serve under him. During a meeting of ICDC soldiers and coalition leaders, Hussein was given a gift from his coalition counterparts. A crowd of 200 soldiers, both ICDC and coalition, stood on their feet and applauded as he received a rare Arabic saber that symbolizes bravery.

    "Ali is the type of commander who will not eat or take a day off unless his soldiers have had the opportunity to do so," Lillibridge said. "He's just a good man."

    Ali Hussein's five children believe in their father as well. Much like the colonel admired his uncle as a child, Hussein's 11-year-old son, Akmed, begs to go to his father's workplace and meet with soldiers.

    "I think he wants to be a soldier when he grows up," Hussein said.

    Why shouldn't Akmed want to be a soldier? It is a family tradition.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.15.2004
    Date Posted: 06.15.2004 14:52
    Story ID: 4
    Location: QAYYARAH, IQ

    Web Views: 766
    Downloads: 651

    PUBLIC DOMAIN