The Multi-National Security Transition Command â€“ Iraq J7 (Engineer) not only has engineers from three branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, it also boasts support from our Coalition partners. Lt. Col. Samuel Ruiz from El Salvador has devoted six months of his hard work and engineering expertise to MNSTC-I to deliver facilities for the Iraqi Security Forces.
Since he arrived in Baghdad in August 2008, Ruiz has been directly involved in program management of infrastructure projects at Iraqâ€™s largest military supply depot in Taji and at the Iraqi Army Service Support Institute, as well as Iraqi Air Force facilities at Rustamiyah.
U.S. Army Maj. Tom Heinold was assigned to sponsor Ruiz when he first arrived. â€œSince I knew the most Spanish in J7, I went to pick up Lt. Col. Ruiz and get him in-processed. I could tell right away that he had a good head on his shoulders and that heâ€™d be a great asset to the team. Just one short week later, he took on my entire program while I was on my mid-tour leave. When I returned in late September he had things running smoothly.â€
This tour wasnâ€™t the first time Ruiz had seen Iraq. In 2003, he arrived with some of the first Coalition troops as a part of El Salvadorâ€™s Cuzcatlan Battalion in Al Kut. During this tour, he kept in touch with his old battalion and was able to visit them occasionally to share critical mission information and participate in official ceremonies.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Matt Olijnek appreciates Ruizâ€™s help in and out of the office. â€œLt. Col. Ruiz instigated a weekly tour of Dining Facilities for the J7 shop. He led the charge to break the mundane norm of always eating at the same DFAC and provided his colleagues with a social/mentoring opportunity for the J7 Ministry of Defense Branch to get together as a team.â€
â€œSam has become an integral part of J7 during his deployment,â€ commented U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scot Allen, chief of the J7 Ministry of Defense Branch. â€œWe appreciate the perspective he brings to construction program management, and MNSTC-I has greatly benefitted from the diversity of having a Salvadoran officer on the team. He took responsibility for logistics and Iraqi Air Force projects at Taji and Rustamiyah, and represented El Salvador extremely well. He also has a great sense of humor.â€
As LTC Ruiz plans to depart from MNSTC-I in late January, along with the remainder of the El Salvadoran military forces, his colleagues plan to hold an awards ceremony in Baghdad to thank him for his contributions in constructing the infrastructure necessary for the Iraqi Security Forces to properly train and maintain their equipment so they can take on the security mission in Iraq.
Posts Tagged ‘Coalition allies in Iraq’
The Tongan Defense Services Royal Tongan Marines held their end-of-mission ceremony at Al Faw Palace, Dec. 4.
In June 2004, the first contingent of 45 Royal Tongan Marines deployed to Al-Ramadi in the Anbar province, under the provincial control of the 1st U.S. Marine Expeditionary Division. Since August 2007, the Tongan Marines have provided 24 hour-a-day security for their fellow coalition service members working at Al Faw Palace in support of Multi-National Force and Corps â€“ Iraq.
â€œThe time has come for us to bid farewell to the Tongan contingent of the coalition,â€ said Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general, MNC-I. â€œThe [Tongan] Marines have given five and a half years of contribution to MNC-I, and we are truly thankful for their participation.â€
The entire Tongan Defense Service totals 450 service members who are charged with the security requirements of their nationâ€™s 100,000 citizens.
â€œIt is no small measure of the commitment and sacrifice when the Kingdom of Tonga contributes 55 of their elite Royal Marines to Multi-National Corps – Iraq, but thatâ€™s the nature of the Tongan people; friendship and contribution,â€ Austin said.
â€œThey are some of the finest people I have ever come across,â€ said Lt. Col. William Wanovich, battalion commander, Task Force Dragon. â€œNot only are they hard workers and physically strong, they are dedicated and humble about it.â€
The military partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Tonga dates back to World War II when Tonga was one of the first countries to follow the U.S. in declaring war on Japan just days after Pearl Harbor.
â€œThe Tongan soldiers of World War II were thought of highly by the 147th Infantry Regiment, and the 77th Coastal Artillery who fought alongside them. Three Tongan soldiers were awarded the United States Silver Star Medal for valor in combat,â€ Austin said. â€œI am proud that Tongaâ€™s participation in Iraq can now be added to our storied military history as military compatriots.â€
When the Royal Tongan Marines said goodbye to Al Faw Palace and Iraq, their tremendous contributions to coalition efforts in Iraq became a major part of the new history of Iraq.
â€œWe all work together here, and the Tongan Marines were an important coalition partner,â€ Wanovich said. â€œAs friends of the United States, they will be missed here in Iraq.â€
â€œMarines, we will miss your professionalism, and equally your high morale and esprit, which is infectious to all of us,â€ Austin said. â€œIt is sad to see you go, but your departure is yet another indication of the progress weâ€™ve made in Iraq. So, if success here in Iraq means we must part ways, then this farewell is a tribute to our collective success as a coalition, and to the stability of Iraq.â€
The Czech contingent, Senior Iraqi and Coalition partners gathered at the Iraqi Army Armor School here Dec. 4 to mark the Czech Republic end-of-mission and to recognize the Czechs for their work training and advising the Iraqi Army.
14 Soldiers commanded by Czech Republic Army Maj. Frantisek Grmela, provided trainers and advisors to the Iraqi Army Armor School at Taji for the past six months.
â€œWe wonâ€™t forget our friends in the Czech Republic. They presented all kinds of expertise through opening new training and educational courses for the 9th Division and the support they give to the school with trainers and training aids gave us the highest level of training,â€ said Iraqi Army Col. Ghazi, Commandant of the Iraqi Army Armor School.
â€œDuring my more than three years of duty as Ambassador of the Czech Republic, I have seen dramatic change in Iraq; political, economical and, of course, in the field of security. The Czech Republic has shown our partners and the Iraqis that we are a reliable member of the Coalition,â€ said Czech Republic Ambassador Petr Voznica.
“We started in 2003 by providing help to Coalition forces and Iraqi citizens at a field hospital in Basrah. Then we trained Iraqi police and Iraqi border police in Shaiba in the south of Iraq. Then we moved to the Taji Armor School to train-the-trainers to increase the capabilities of the Iraqi Army,â€ said Voznica.
Praising the Czech contingent trainers, Voznica stated, â€œThey have done an extremely good and valuable job here and let me say that we are proud of having such professionals. I am a retired major general of the army and it would be an honor for me to have these Soldiers always and anywhere with me.â€
â€œThe Government of Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces have proven their ability to govern and secure Iraq,â€ added Voznica.
â€œEvery soldier wants to go home knowing that theyâ€™ve made a contribution during their time away from home. Maj. Grmela and his team have done exactly that. They have assisted the Armor School in training, providing training devices and have worked with the 2nd Battalion of the 34th brigade. I know they have some special memories to take home with them,â€ said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Steven Salazar, commander of the Coalition Army Advisory Training Team from Multi-National Security Transition Command â€“ Iraq.
The final speaker, Grmela, concluded, â€œWe are all Soldiers. We understand each other, even when sometimes there is a language barrier. There arose a number of close professional relationships. We appreciate the chance to share parts of our lives with you.â€
Attending the ceremony, in addition to Voznica, Salazar and Ghazi, were Romanian Army Brig. Gen. Mihai Chirita, deputy director, Multi-National Forces – Iraq CJ5 coalition; Canadian Army Brig. Gen. Nicolas Matern, Multi-National Corps â€“ Iraq deputy commanding general – Coalition and Infrastructure, and Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Sabah, Commander of Taji Location Command.
South Koreaâ€™s Zaytun Division, which has been operating in Irbil since 2004, bid farewell to its Iraqi and coalition counterparts during an end of mission ceremony Dec. 1.
The division has been a presence in the northern region of Iraq for the last four years, focusing efforts on rebuilding the area and creating a better quality of life for the Kurdish-controlled region. â€œThe Zaytun Division, since its arrival in 2004, has set the standard for reconstruction efforts in Iraq and it serves as the example of what is achievable in the rest of the country,â€ said Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general, Multi-National Corps â€“ Iraq. â€œYour efforts over the past four years are nothing short of remarkable and your list of accomplishments is long. Each of these accomplishments has positively affected countless Iraqis.â€
The extensive list of Zaytunâ€™s achievements include providing medical care for more than 89,000 Iraqis, including 25 children who were brought to South Korea for specialty surgeries, conducting 445 literacy classes graduating 6,245 students and donating 15,000 medical items to clinics in Irbil. â€œThe Koreans have steadfastly provided the people of northern Iraq with the tools they need to lead peaceful and productive lives,â€ Austin said. â€œYou have proven through partnership and with the will and the determination of the people, a prosperous future for Iraq can be achieved.â€
Operation Iraqi Freedom isnâ€™t the first time South Korean forces have joined the United States on the battlefield. During Vietnam and the Korean War, South Korea stood side by side with American troops to fight for democracy and basic human rights, said Vice Admiral Kim Joong-Ryun, vice chairman, Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff. â€œThe ROC-U.S. alliance has always been most steadfast and exemplary,â€ he said. â€œWe will join hands again at another time in another location to protect the values we all stand for.â€
South Koreaâ€™s contribution of socioeconomic development, humanitarian assistance and, most importantly, friendship-building in the Irbil area will not soon be forgotten. â€œYou have been dedicated trainers, mentors, partners and friends to the Iraqi people in this vital region of Iraq,â€ Austin said.
â€œThrough our contributions, we have strived to become members of the local community and true friends,â€ said Maj. Gen. Park Sun-Woo, commanding general, Zaytun Division. Park said that although Korean forces are leaving the area, they continue to wish for peace and prosperity in Iraq.
â€œWe leave with great assurance of a bright future in Irbil and in Iraq,â€ Kim said.