Story by Pfc. Lyndsey Dransfield
Posted on 07.03.2008 at 07:37AM
By Pfc. Lyndsey R. Dransfield
2nd Styker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Children, at times, are easy targets for criminals and terrorists. Not only are they the victims of attacks, they are now the victims of recruitment into dangerous organizations.
Since the liberation of Iraq in 2003, there have been several incidents of al-Qaida using children to conduct their terrorist activities.
Soldiers from 4th Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, joined with the Iraqi army to reach out to children and their families by conducting a patrol throughout the Mushada area, northwest of Baghdad, passing out flyers and speaking with the locals of the city.
Their intent is to educate them about criminal and terrorist activities.
“At first the people that we made contact with were apprehensive to talk to us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steve Purvis, native of Lexington, N.C., and platoon sergeant with Company C, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Regt. “But when they realized we were there to inform them and about recent ploys to exploit their children, and that we care about them and their children, they were more receptive and openly began to talk with us.”
Not only were they successful in informing the families, but Sgt. John Mulcahy, native of Atlanta, and team sergeant attached to 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Regt., said they also had success in having their message distributed by the local religious leader, or imam.
Providing reassurance to their people, the Iraqi Army played a necessary role stopping recruitment of children.
“By people seeing the Iraqi Army serving and protecting them, it shows that their country is growing stronger,” said Purvis.
Passing out fliers and speaking to children may seem like a small step, but the message is a significant element toward the primary mission; providing a safe and secure environment for the people of Iraq.
“Everybody knows that Soldiers love children,” Purvis stated. “By using children al-Qaida is trying to exploit their innocence against us. The children of Iraq are the future of the country.”