News: Successful Elections Prove Progress in Iraq
Story by Pvt. Zach Zuber
DIYALA, Iraq — On March 7, Iraqi citizens in Diyala province proved their desire for democracy and chose to ignore threats of violence and harm. Iraqi security forces showed they know how to plan and execute successful security operations to allow this democratic process to happen. They demonstrated what they have learned and what they have always been capable of, all in one day.
At the Diyala Provincial Joint Coordination Center, leaders from the Iraqi security forces came together to manage efforts to keep their people safe as they voted for the leaders they support during the Iraqi parliamentary elections.
"We are happy for our success but also sad because one civilian died," said Brig. Gen. Kamal Issah Mustafa. "This was a success for democracy that we consider a step forward in our future."
The day proved a step forward because of the process involved in creating a secure voting environment.
"For approximately a month we have been holding conferences and lectures, creating plans to prepare for the elections," said Mustafa. "We were able to preserve lives and make the voting process much easier."
Another equally significant factor in this process was that there was almost no involvement by members of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, who are the main operational United States Forces-Iraq unit in the province.
Arrowhead Soldiers throughout the province were stationed strategically to be available if needed, but that situation never arose.
"Our mission was to provide support for our ISF counterparts, and be quickly available if requested," said 1st Lt. Brett Sim, the fire support officer for the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3-2 SBCT. "Today was a test for the ISF if they could secure their cities for a free democratic election."
"They have proven themselves not to us, but to the people, that they could plan and execute their security missions throughout elections."
This day did not just provide proof of the ISF's success, but also successes of the training and cooperative work done by the 3-2 SBCT with their Iraqi counterparts since their arrival in Iraq.
"The partnerships that the company commanders and platoon leaders have developed over the past six months helped make yesterday's election successful," said Lt. Col. Mitchell Rambin, the 5/20 Inf. commander. "Through those partnerships, we have modeled professional behavior as well as trained ISF police and soldiers how to search individuals and vehicles. "
Another product of the partnership was the sharing of information between all security forces, not only US Forces and ISF but between the Iraqi army and Iraqi police."
As the process of collecting and counting the votes continues, 5/20 Inf. Soldiers will continue to make themselves available if needed.
"We are currently enhancing the security posture at the ballot storage warehouse and the Baqubah Library where the Diyala province ballots are being counted," said Rambin. "This is in response to a request from the Independent High Electoral Commission for all of Iraq. The ISF in Diyala are currently more than capable of providing the necessary security at these two sites."
The work they have done in preparation, combined with the successes on election day, provide the leaders of both forces with an opportunity to look at what the country and security forces can do in the future.
"These elections are a tremendous sign for the future of Iraq; the security forces performed magnificently," said Rambin. "They had a very good plan that they executed, resulting in a successful election. It was very good to see the progress they have made over the past 4-5 years."
"We helped ourselves to get rid of a dictator, so now each citizen can vote freely for the member of parliament that they prefer," said Mustafa. "Half of the success belongs to the efforts of coalition forces, and we thank our brothers for supporting us."