Saturday, March 1, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 1 Mar 2008

From MNF-I, Veterinarian Clinic Treats 300 Sheep in Rural Iraqi Community.

BAGHDAD — With the help from civil affairs veterinarians, Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), held a veterinarian operation Feb. 22 in the southern portion of Abu Ghraib in the Iraqi capital.

The sounds of sheep echoed through the air as they arrived in herds of nearly 30 at a time to this very rural area of Baghdad. Surrounded by orange fencing, sheep waited to receive vaccination shots to help with their growth and reproduction issues.

The purpose of the vet operation, in which approximately 300 sheep were treated, was to help the local populace with their livestock, making them healthier and able to reproduce to better the local economy, said Staff Sgt. Richard Gilliland, Huntsville, Ala., native, and civil affairs non-commissioned officer in charge with 1st Bn., 320th FA Regt.

The community’s residents told the Soldiers that their livestock were not doing very well when it came to their growth and reproduction, he said. Platoon leaders and battery commanders pushed out into the community to tell the local sheiks and residents to bring their sheep to the event.

“What I hope to happen is the animals, first off, all get better and are able to reproduce for these farmers,” he said. “Then, that way they can have a better herd for future meals and make them more economically healthy.”

It’s not a huge concern thus far within the area, but given the fact the sheep are the Iraqi’s main source of food in this area, this needed to be done, Gilliland said.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Billy Nored, a Murray, Ky., native, with the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion, injected the sheep with ivormectin, which was used as a de-wormer to get rid of the screw flies plaguing the sheep.

“Screw flies manifest themselves in, and host themselves on, sheep and start to produce infection,” Nored said. “We are doing all we can to improve the quality of livestock for the local populace.”

“We can make the quality of the animal better,” added Capt. Zach Mills, a Golden, Colo., native, who serves the 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion. He also injected the livestock with Clostridium Chauvoei & Clostridium Septicum.

“For the economy,” said Mills, “it will allow for better meat and better quality. It will allow for the economy to grow from the ground up.”

While injecting the sheep with vaccine, the team was also trying to get a general consensus of what the animal’s conditions were in the past and what their current conditions are, said Nored.

“The quality is not bad; it’s actually pretty good,” he said. “It’s good that the word got around, so these animals could get vaccinated. It’s going to help.”

Another problem they are facing in the area is the lack of an Iraqi veterinarian clinic to treat these animals, said Gilliland. The Top Gun troops want to identify a qualified vet, provide him with a traveling veterinarian kit, and allow him to move through the community to give the animals regular immunizations and examinations.

“The ultimate goal is to get a veterinarian in this area to try and help these people with their animals,” Gilliland said. As Coalition forces continue to move more toward an overwatch position, allowing Iraqis to take care of Iraqis is essential. So getting a veterinarian into the area allows Coalition forces to continue that move toward overwatch.

“We are trying to stimulate their economy as we continue this push forward,” Mills said. “We want them to be able to do this themselves.”

In four weeks the veterinarians will come back to the community to assess the improvements of the sheep.