Iraqi captain wins praise for getting results
Stars and Stripes June 15, 2007
HILLAH, Iraq — He’s an Iraqi company commander whom the U.S. soldiers here would like to turn into a conglomerate.
Capt. Kadim Abbas is a fighter. When things turned hot in nearby Diwaniyah a few weeks ago, it was Kadim who was sent to bolster Iraqi forces.
His reward? Now he and his men sit atop three hilltops that overlook the northern farmlands out from Hillah. They’re places that insurgents use to fire mortars into the Regional Embassy Office where State Department workers, U.S. contractors and members of the military transition team with the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, under the 4th Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, are based.
For Kadim, it’s an assignment full of frustration. The outlooks have little shelter and little power. A higher Iraqi unit within the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division took away Kadim’s medics, leaving him without specialized medical soldiers and short on medical supplies. His men, who suffer from headaches, are rationed three 1½-liter bottles of water per day.
But in the past 20 days, the REO, where the American workers and other coalition forces live, has been bomb-free.
That’s because Kadim has driven throughout the countryside and laid down the law.
“He’s the best company commander they’ve got,” said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Davis, 43, of Highlands, N.C.
Without direction from his higher commanders, Kadim has set up a written code of conduct for the residents in his area of operation, and he’s made them sign it. The paper says that anyone who lets insurgents use their land to shoot off mortars or rockets will be arrested and sent to jail. If those residents see anyone trying to set up to shoot, they are obligated to call the captain and let him know.
Kadim also has set up a small fund, again on his own, to help his soldiers when they get sick, marry or are killed.
“He’s their captain and their first sergeant,” said U.S. Army Capt. Killaurin Roberts, 31, of Memphis, Tenn.
But Kadim can’t solve everything on his own. He wants to hook up an outpost to the city’s electrical grid, and he needs about 200 meters of 220-volt wire. He’s asked his commanders for weeks to no avail.
“How much does it cost?” asked Sgt. 1st Class Hugh Clark, 39, of Liberty, Texas, the medical adviser for the military transition team.
About $100, Kadim explains through a translator.
“Go get it,” Clark says, handing him two $50 bills from his own pocket. “Not everybody at the REO knows what you’re doing, but they appreciate it.”