Iraqi nationals help Georgia Guard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Iraqi nationals help Georgia Guard

Albany-- Georgia National Guard troops training at Fort Stewart are seeing and hearing what it's like to face an angry crowd on an Iraqi street. Mixed in with the American actors in this training scenario are a handful of Iraqi citizens screaming at the soldiers in Arabic.

"Okay guys, let's have a good one," the Iraqi national leading the training told the group as they prepared to start the training. The man we'll call Samir grew up in Iraq as Saddam Hussein was coming into power. "It was very difficult," he said. We don't want to reveal Samir's identity because he wants to return to Iraq to work with the U.S. military there, and he could become a target for insurgents.

When Samir was a teenager, his family sneaked out of Iraq. "We had to leave in kind of secrecy. Even the neighbors didn't know that we were departing the country." After a brief stay in Lebanon, the family came to the United States. "I love this country, and I love back home in Iraq where I was born."

That's why Samir wants to help American troops help the people of Iraq. "It's my honor to do it," Samir said. H teaches classes about Iraqi culture and history to U.S. troops. "We show them our traditions."

He also leads realistic training to prepare soldiers for the dangers of Iraq. "We want to keep them safe while they're there and also to keep our citizens in Iraq there safe too," Samir said.

He admits Iraqis don't feel safe right now, but he hopes that will change. Samir said, "Iraqi people are good people, and they're going to have a bright future." And that good future depends largely on support from the United States.

"Democracy is not going to happen overnight. It's going to take a little while. And hopefully, it's going in the right direction." And Samir is committed to pointing Georgia troops in the right direction, so that one day he can return to an Iraq that is a Home for the Free.

posted by ben.roberts@walb.com

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