Saturday, May 12, 2007

Supporting Local Leaders

Captain Matt McCreary is the commander of our Bravo Company (infantry). During our trip to visit with him and his Soldiers this week, he invited me to join him and one of his lieutenants (Steve Lankford) for a meeting with a sheik and a police chief in his company's area of operations. I consider each of our seven company commanders a friend, but Matt also happens to be my neighbor back in Georgia; our wives and children help support one another in our absence, which makes me especially fond of him. The particular meeting was at Sheik Saad's home. The women (as is customary) were conspicuously absent. His sons were adorable and reminded me how much I missed Benjamin and Jared. Colonel Jama, commander of the Iraqi police in Matt's AO, joined us as well. The leadership qualities of both men are quite evident. The western half of our battalion's battle space is more peaceful, so these type of relationships are the norm. The eastern half is struggling in that direction.

The purpose of the meeting was to sign a contract that would fund a project to clean up the area in preparation of rebuilding the infrastructure. LT Lankford is a promising young officer, who has done the ground work for this project. It is expected it will be the first of many. These men gave me a funny look when I asked our interpreter for their permission to post their pictures on this site. I explained that some people could use this information to identify them for harm. They laughed to each other--everyone here knows we support the rebuilding of Iraq, we are happier if the whole world knew it. This reminded me of the explanation why John Hancock's signature on our Declaration of Independence is over-sized.

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