Update: US Navy, Marines and SoA Help Iraqi Partners in Fight Against ISIS
Hello everyone, I’d like to share with you a quick update about our ongoing work in Iraq. As you may recall, we recently launched a campaign to provide urgently needed gear for local security forces in northern Iraq, all in response to critical needs identified by US Navy and Marine Special Operations Forces (USSOF) that are training and advising them. Earlier this month, I was invited by a Navy SOF unit to observe a platoon of local tribal security forces as they trained in using hand-held metal detectors provided by SoA. These vetted tribal units, many of whom have been working with the US for years, will play a crucial role in repelling ISIS from Iraq. Likewise, developing their capacity and their professionalism is instrumental towards achieving enduring stability throughout the region. To that end, SoA has made supporting them a top priority—especially in light of widely anticipated operation to liberate Mosul from ISIS. The metal detectors will be utilized for various crucial tasks including processing refugees escaping the fighting and clearing vehicles and buildings for explosives. The training started mid-morning. Huddled in the soft shadow of an abandoned cement house, a mild breeze providing some relief from the desert heat, the tribal fighters soaked in the stream of step-by-step instructions from the US military trainer. Standing in the midst of the group, the American trainer first stressed the importance of being thorough when employing the detector (attention to detail) before demonstrating its proper use. Then it was time for the hands-on training portion of the class. One by one, several of them searched each other with the metal detector. It was a sober setting. Perhaps out of recognition that they’ll be putting these newly acquired skills to use in real-world situations soon enough, the men appeared focused and resolute. Seeing them putting SoA-provide equipment to good use was especially rewarding. A pivotal battle for the future of Iraq looms in the horizon, not far where these men were training. Its outcome rests largely on the shoulders of moderate local elements and their American partners. It’s a heavy burden indeed. At the moment, the US military and their Kurdish and Iraqi partners are stepping up to do their share of the task. With the backing of our numerous supporters across the US, SoA is committed to doing our fair share. We’re grateful for you support and contributions. Zack Bazzi Project Manager – Middle East
Zack served in the US Army and Army National Guard from 1997 to 2008, completing four overseas deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.