School Supplies for the Children of Anbar
Since Fallujah was wrested from the control of al-Qaeda and the insurgency in November of 2004, the Coalition and Iraq government have worked to restore security and basic services the warn-torn city. Major Britt Rosenberry, stationed in Camp Fallujah, has 3-man teams who patrol with the Army and Marine Infantry throughout the entire Al Anbar Province. They interact with the citizens and concerned with their plight.
This generation of kids are the key to Iraq's future success. Al-Qaeda and the insurgency has been conducting a "Taliban-like campaign" to close down schools, keep children uneducated. They harass and intimidate principals (called headmasters) and teachers. This year, a headmaster was kidnapped in front of the students and later assassinated.
One of Major Rosenberry's highest priorities is the children. They are highly susceptible to insurgent propaganda, and a ripe for recruitment by the insurgents. "Schools are easy targets," said Major Rosenberry. "The Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army patrol the city, but are not always providing overwatch to fixed locations." To counter the intimidation of al-Qaeda closing schools, they are secretly opened in homes. But this comes at a cost. Some children may travel up to two hours a day for two hours of
instruction. And the provincial schools, whether they are established or clandestine, need supplies. School books, notebooks, pens pencils and other school items are in short supplies.
To fill this need, Major Rosenberry asked for help from home. "Don't send the fat pill," the care package filled with candy, Major Rosenberry told friends and family back home. "Send us notebooks and pens."
Not only do the school supplies help the Iraq children, but they help to defeat al-Qaeda and insurgency. "When fighting an information war, it is important to back up words with actions," said Major Rosenberry. Providing the school supplies allows the Coalition and Iraqi security forces to live up to their commitment to keeps schools open. The mission also introduces the children to the Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers and Marines. "They get to see we are human. They laugh, we makes jokes. We take off the gear and by the time we leave we're exchanging hugs. When we return, they recognize us."
Bill Roggio writes at billroggio.com and is currently embedded in Iraq.