By Sgt. Jeremy Todd
4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq – The government of Iraq made their first salary payments to the Sons of Iraq working in the Karadah District of eastern Baghdad, Nov 12.
The GoI accepted responsibility for paying SoI in October when the government integrated SoI members into Iraqi security forces and other government service across Iraq. Before then, U.S. Forces paid SoI, a community security force protecting local Iraqi citizens in their neighborhoods.
The GoI delegated payment authority of the funds they provided to the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi national police division. Each SoI member received more than $300, paid in Iraqi Dinar, a respectable amount of cash, according to SoI member Ali Shaker Ismile.
“It feels good to be paid a good salary for doing work that helps the people of Karadah,” said Ismile. “This job is vital to my people; they need my help and depend on me and the other SoI to keep them safe from the bad guys.
“Inshala [God-willing], everything will work as it should. I believe that they will maintain the payments,” continued Ismile. “They know, as I know, that this job is important. It is very important to serve my country.”
Ismile expressed his trust in the leaders of Iraq. They have recognized the “needs of the people for peace through equality,” he said. “I feel good about the promise of democracy in Iraq. They have finally begun to commit to the goals that they have pledged to us, and I believe that they will fulfill all the goals they promised us, and this is a very good thing, very good.”
As U.S. Forces transfer to an overwatch role, they have the unique opportunity to watch the transition plan fall into play, said Maj. Brian Wortinger, 1st Brigade, 1st National Police Division transition team chief from Dubois, Ind.
“As we continue to transition more functions to the Iraqi Security Forces, it becomes better for us,” commented Wortinger.”It means less American involvement and the ability for Iraqi security forces to stand on their own, which equals success. Today is a good day for them and for us.”
Wortinger believes the national police will continue to diligently integrate the SoI. They have established two police academies in Karadah and are keeping SoI involved, “which will ultimately bring longer term stability to Iraq,” he said.
The SoI commander in Karadah, Salam Hanoon Mustaf, said he is extremely proud of the efforts his men have made to ensure stability in the area. “And now that the responsibility of payment has been transferred to Iraq, the sense of pride I feel is felt by my men as well.”
By Sgt. Jeremy Todd