Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cav troopers help Abu Hillan residents – and animals

Staff Sgt. Todd Phipps
1st Sqdrn., 89th Cav. Regt., 2nd BCT

ABU HILLAN, Iraq — An important part of the Iraqi reconstruction effort is helping the local residents; not only does it provide much-needed aid in areas hard-hit by terrorism, but many tips come from Iraqi civilians who have come to trust coalition forces through medical and veterinary services.
Soldiers of Troop C, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., continued to provide additional assistance to the local populace in Abu Hillan, Abu Sheikan and Safirah, Iraq, July 14.
Soldiers of Trp. C’s mortar platoon, the Tactical Psychological Operations Team, and Maj. Kevin Wellington, a veterinarian who serves with Multi-National Corps - Iraq, provided veterinary assistance to the farmers living in and around the three villages.
After the tremendous success of the previous veterinary operation in Abu Shiekan, the word spread among the locals about the support provided during the visit.
Soon, residents of Abu Hillan requested a similar mission.
Early in the morning of July 14, the Soldiers loaded a trailer full of fencing, water and veterinary medical supplies and went to Abu Hillan to support this request.
When the patrol arrived at the Al-Salam Clinic, they cleared all the area buildings before putting up improvised animal pens. While the pens were being built, Soldiers traveled around the area announcing the opportunity to local farmers.
By 8 a.m., holding and exam pens were established and the message had been delivered.
The initial response from the area was minimal, with Wellington conducting examination of only three cows in the first two hours.
But as the morning progressed, the trickle turned into a torrent. Several local farmers began to arrive with several herds of sheep, more cows and even horses. The number of animals was so large that all Soldiers not pulling security were asked to help the locals with herding and controlling the animals.
“Being from the city, I never had to hold a sheep in my life before,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jose Soriano Jr., a platoon sergeant from Trp. C., “But the operation went very well.” Wellington gave each animal flea-and-tick and de-worming medicines, and advised the owners on general care procedures.
The operation was physically demanding in the heat of late morning, but worth the effort, said Wellington. More than 200 sheep, 10 cows and four horses were treated in the last hour.
Healthy animals are an important part of the farmers’ lives, and essential to their economic survival, so veterinary care is critical to the agrarian community.
Once again, when the local nationals in the 1-89’s area of operations requested assistance, Trp. C responded, continuing to expand the trust and relationship between the residents and coalition forces needed to continue quelling violence and improving security.
“The local nationals responded well,” said Capt. John Breslin, a platoon leader with 1-89. “It increased goodwill and rapport with the locals.”
The success of the operation will not be the last; not long after the mission, another town in the area requested veterinary assistance.
Trp. C will again provide support to the Iraqi communities in the near future.

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