BAGHDADI, Iraq -- Marines from the 4th Civil Affairs Group, Detachment 4-2, and Iraqi Security Forces teamed up for Operation Benefit Day on Wednesday in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
The purpose of the operation was for Iraqi Security Forces and Marines to deliver donated backpacks filled with school supplies to children for school, said Master Sgt. James A. Allen, the Detachment 4-2 chief of the 4th Civil Affairs Group, based out of Naval District Washington.
Many Iraqi children in the western Al Anbar Province do not have the proper supplies for school, said Allen.
More than a dozen Iraqi Security Forces personnel ensured school children received the supplies, said Allen. The Marines preferred to have local Iraqi security forces partake in handing out the school supplies, he added.
It builds the Iraqi Security Forces’ trust of the people that they can work with the coalition to distribute school supplies, said Allen.
If more backpacks come in during the middle of the school year, the Marines will make sure to take them out to children they think will need them, said Allen.
Similar types of operations are slated to be conducted across the entire area of operation, said Allen.
We are really helping the children with projects such as this one and we are trying to do the best for this area, said Dr. Diana Tlemsami, an interpreter for the 4th CAG.
The Marines know the impact of OBD may affect the children in the future.
“When the kids receive new things, it shows them someone cares. When they know someone cares, they’re more willing to take initiative in preserving their own community,” said Sgt. Alexis C. Wilson, a Marine with Detachment 4-2.
Tlemsami said it was worthwhile to witness the children’s gratitude over the school supplies.
“It gives you a feeling of satisfaction that you’re doing something beneficial, that you’re making a difference,” said Allen.
The Marines say they will work with the Iraqi people and local authorities in the Al Anbar Province to build capacities and political infrastructure in order to support their progress as a community, economy and government.
“It’s not always about the adults; the future is a really big deal. These kids could be the ones to put an end to the fighting,” Wilson said.