Thursday, August 13, 2009
Iraqi leader hosts feast
By CAPT. MURRAY SHUGARS
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq — A local Iraqi leader hosted a traditional feast to say goodbye to two battalions from the Washington Army National Guard at Katar Restaurant, a Turkish owned and operated eatery, here July 30.
Dr. Muhammed Ismail Ahmed, known as “Doc Mo” to military leaders here, acts as a liaison to Coalition forces for more than 50 rural villages surrounding Q-West. He said his farewells to soldiers and leaders from the 81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion and the 181st Brigade Support Battalion, and welcomed soldiers from the 2/198th Combined Arms Battalion, Mississippi Army National Guard, during the meal.
“It is an ancient Iraqi custom to share food and drink as a sign of friendship and brotherhood,” said Ahmed, who holds a medical degree from the University of Mosul. “I want to show that we are brothers, that we are one family.
“I want to thank all our brothers, those who have been with us this last year and those who have arrived to be with us during the coming year.”
The 81st BSTB managed the base defense operations center and the 181st BSB ran the Mayor Cell. The two units transferred authority to the 2/198th CAB during a ceremony here July 27.
Col. Martin B. Pitts, 16th Sustainment Brigade commander, thanked Doc Mo for the dinner and the opportunity to say goodbye to many leaders he has worked closely with for the past ten months.
“I am grateful that Dr. Ahmed has given us this opportunity,” said Pitts. “He has been a friend to U.S. soldiers, and he has played an important role in strengthening U.S. and Iraqi relations in the region, helping us achieve our shared goal of building a safe and secure Iraq.”
Lt. Col. William B. Smith, Q-West Mayor, 2/198th CAB, said that working closely with Iraqi leaders is essential to success.
“The U.S. military’s approach has changed, and we have a smaller footprint in the sovereign nation of Iraq,” said Smith, a native of Hattiesburg.
“For us to continue our success here, we must sustain and further strengthen relations at the local level, with regional and city leaders, especially with those who reach out to us as Dr. Ahmed has done over the years.”
Smith said that the 2/198th CAB will continue to work with Doc Mo, as the 181st BSB had done before.
“He is a respected figure in the local Iraqi community, and we want to build on the relationship we have with him,” said Smith.
Ahmed said he was born into this role.
“It is a tradition in my family to build bonds with different tribes,” said Ahmed. “My grandfather, who owned a thousand sheep and a thousand goats, built strong relationships with the tribes 80 or 90 years ago, and so did my father in his day. The Americans are to me like another tribe. They are different, with different customs and religions, but they are here and we must work together.”
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