Retired Iraqi commander briefs Advise and Assist Brigade leaders

| May 21, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Pfc. Robert England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

2nd Brigade prepares for its upcoming deployment to Iraq

Retired Iraqi army commander Omar Mustafa (center) addresses key leaders in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, during an Iraqi cultural briefing at the Nehelani. Lessons gleaned from the briefing are expected to aid the Advise and Assist Brigade during its upcoming deployment.SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Key leaders from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, met with retired Iraqi army commander Omar Mustafa during an Iraqi cultural briefing at the Nehelani, here, May 12-14.

Developed by Mustafa, the cultural briefing will be crucial to the brigade’s success during its upcoming deployment as an Advise and Assist Brigade. 

Brigade leaders will need to be familiar with Iraqi culture and customs to ensure favorable working relationships with their Iraqi counterparts.

Senior leaders from 2nd Brigade worked closely with Mustafa by conducting key leader engagement training during the brigade’s recent rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

After retiring from the Iraqi army, Mustafa  now works for a contactor that assists the military with training operations at NTC. He has worked with about 40 brigades during the past four years, and he formulates talking points for the briefing based on his NTC training experience, as well as his past experiences as an Iraqi army commander.

Primary focal points included building strong working relationships with Iraqi officials through respect, understanding differences in American and Iraqi cultures, and learning how to properly conduct oneself in a culturally acceptable manner. 

Mustafa also addressed the possibility that problems may arise for various reasons, and suggested ways to deal with such issues so as to preserve good working relationships. 

Finally, Mustafa highlighted the importance of communicating effectively through interpreters.

“Basically, Mustafa did all the work. He put the slides together and revised them to make them easier to understand,” said Col. Matthew Kelley, chief adviser to the brigade’s Stability Transition Team. “We just coordinated to get him out here between NTC rotations.”

Battalion commanders were present and planned to share information with their company commanders. They also planned to offer guidance on ways to train Soldiers in acceptable etiquette when interacting with local Iraqis during the deployment.

As the brigade prepares to assume its advisory role, understanding Iraqi culture and customs helps foster strong working relationships with Iraqi leaders and ensures the success of the brigade’s mission. 

According to those in attendance, Mustafa’s briefing increased cultural awareness, as well as brigade readiness, for the upcoming deployment.

“We need to have cultural appreciation and patience with Iraqis,” said Lt. Col. Robert Molinari, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment. “This is something I will remind my company commanders, as well as my Soldiers, throughout the deployment.”

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