News: Iraqi soldiers study civil affairs operations
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq – Soldiers assigned to 12th Iraqi Army Division learned fundamentals of civil affairs operations during a course with U.S. soldiers at 12 IA Division Headquarters in Kirkuk province, Iraq, May 23-26.
Maj. Marcus Copeland, a civil affairs officer assigned to the12th IA Division Stability Transition Team, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, led the training to help strengthen the IA civil affairs program.
Copeland, who hails from Fuquay-Varina, N.C., said goal for the class involved emphasizing the importance of building solid relationships between the civil affairs soldiers and the civilian population.
“I think my initial goal, today especially, is to introduce the subject very broadly,” said Copeland after the first day of training. “And hopefully they will start to think along the lines of how to employ civil affairs.”
Copeland continually narrowed the focus of the classes as training continued, concentrating on key aspects necessary for effective civil affairs operations.
“We got more into the specifics as to how civil affairs can benefit both the civilian population and the military,” he said. “We discussed humanitarian assistance and population recourse control and how these can affect the way the population views the military.”
Col. Ali, senior civil affairs officer, 12th IA Division, said a strong civil affairs program is vital to the success of the Iraqi Army’s mission to protect the people of Iraq against insurgents in the country and potential foreign threats.
“We need the Iraqi people to rely on us if we are to protect them,” said Ali. “If we can gain their trust, we will be a much stronger country.
Ali said he looks forward to the future of Iraqi civil affairs he and his soldiers learn how best to assist their people.
“I believe we have to find out exactly what our people need,” said Ali. “With that information, we will be able to help our people not just in security, but also as humanitarians. This is what makes civil affairs important.”
Because Iraqi forces now lead much of their own training and operations, civil affairs soldiers need to spread what they learned during the class throughout their ranks, said Copeland.
“Ultimately we would like to see them plan civil military operations on their own,” said Copeland. “With our assistance, now I believe they can get there.”