By Sgt. 1st Class Brian Addis
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
PATROL BASE SOUTH, Iraq – The days of Sons of Iraq getting their pay in American dollars are over. That mission now falls on the capable hands of the Iraqi government.
As such, the 53rd Iraqi Army Brigade conducted its first government of Iraq-funded payday operations, Nov. 10, 2008, at Patrol Base South, northwest of Baghdad.
Soldiers from Comanche Troop, 2nd Squadron 14th Cavalry Regiment "Strykehorse," 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team "Warrior," 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, along with the 53-14 Military Transition Team, assisted the 53rd Iraqi Army soldiers in processing 506 paychecks.
"The Iraqi army soldiers are pretty squared away," said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Sproessig, the MiTT Team non-commissioned officer in charge, who is a native of Hanover, Ind. "Today is a huge step for them, and they will celebrate this tonight."
In October, Comanche Troop Soldiers scoured SoI rosters, verified enrollment cards and identification paperwork, and paid each member $300 for the month's work. Today their role was slightly less involved.
"We took somewhat of a back seat to [the Iraqi commanders] in that they were in charge," said Capt. Travis Shain, commander of Troop C, who is a native of Victoria, Texas. He, along with Cpl. Cerone Waddy, a radio telephone operator, who is a native of Richmond, Va., verified each member on the roster. From there, each member proceeded to the pay table to pick up their hard-earned pay.
A lucky group of 30 SoIs received a special visit prior to getting paid as Gen. Qais, the 53rd Iraqi Army Brigade commander, greeted each individual in the atrium prior to addressing them.
"I want to thank you all for what you are doing," he said. "This is our country. You will not have to worry about employment as we will find a place for you with the Iraqi army or the Iraqi police."
Iraqi army soldiers, along with Sons of Iraq members, sang and danced to traditional music.
"This is a historic time for the people of Iraq. You're seeing the fruits of the GoI's labor. It was extremely complicated and took a lot of hard work and patience," Shain said. "The fact that the GoI and Iraqi security forces executed this task with such great ease speaks for itself in that they have come a long way."