KABANI, Iraq –Citizens of Kabani were treated to the first Cooperative Dental Engagement hosted by the Iraqi Army and the 1st Marine Logistics Group here, Aug. 28.
Both Navy and IA dentists combined forces to treat more than 100 children and adults from the village. The cooperative effort combined Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 29th Brigade, 7th IA Division, and Marines with 2d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, who provided security during the event.
Coalition forces noticed the need for a CDE after several successful Cooperative Medical Engagements at the village showed that the villagers were also in need of good dental care.
The relationship Marines share with the villagers keeps Coalition forces coming back to continue their support. Each time, more and more assistance is provided by the IA, who now handles most of the security and screening of the events. With the addition of IA 2nd Lt. Ashraf Ali, a dentist with 7th IA Div., their presence and assistance to the villagers is more noticeable.
"He did the same number as I did," said Cmdr. Scott Kooistra, the dental detachment officer in charge for Dental Platoon, Medical Company, 1st Supply Battalion (-) (Reinforced), who saw more than 100 patients with Ashraf. "He’s very good and it’s very useful having him because he gives us a little more liaison with the people," said the 39-year-old, from Hammond, Ind., about the local feel provided by having an Iraqi Dentist to work with.
Ashraf visited Kooistra before the CDE at his dental office at Camp Taqaddum. Kooistra said he was impressed with Ashraf’s training.
"He’s very knowledgeable and it gave me a good feel for where he’s at," he said.
The relationship and the CDE were also very beneficial for Ashraf who works with limited facilities and equipment at the new medical center at Camp Habbaniyah.
"It was a busy day," said Ashraf, who normally sees about 12 people a day at his clinic. "It was very interesting and I am very glad to do it. All of the equipment and facilities presented here gave us no problems," he said.
The two dentists examined patients all morning, pointing out cavities and other problems as well as teaching good dental hygiene. Floss, tooth paste, brushes and other supplies were on hand to distribute to the villagers.
"One of the goals today is to see how many cavities and how many teeth need to be extracted,” explained Kooistra. “This will give us situational awareness of how many we will need to provide treatment for."
Another point for the visit was to establish trust with the new Iraqi participants in the CDE.
"In Kabani, the residents recognize all of the Marines from my battalion," said Lt. Col. Matthew M. Sieber, battalion commanding officer for 2d LAAD. "They refer to our platoon commander as ‘Mr. George,’ and our chaplain as ‘Mr. John.’ They know everybody and it’s a great relationship with us and the people of Kabani."
With this strong relationship with the Marines, Coalition forces are hoping to further involve the Iraqi Government in humanitarian operations like the CDE.
"The villagers see both Americans and Iraqis working together and they can see that they can depend on the Iraqi government," said Sieber, a 39-year-old from Reedsville, Penn.
With successful operations like the first CDE, it’s only a matter of time before the Iraqis are in complete control of caring for their own.
"Each different event we do we brings more Iraqi involvement into it and Iraqi Forces can come in and increase their participation each time until they are doing it by themselves," Sieber said.