FORWARD OPERATING BASE DUKE, Iraq -- Iraq's Minister of Defense Hazem Sha'alan and a Minister of State Kasim Daoud spoke to members of Iraq's Security Forces during a visit to the base here today.
Today's visit marked a historical, first-ever meeting with these specific units for both members of Iraq's Interim Government. They used this opportunity to talk to the soldiers and inspire then to continue their dedicated service to the country of Iraq.
Also present were Col. Anthony M. Haslam, commanding officer, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), and Brig. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, deputy commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
This is just one example of the new government's climate; its leaders took the time to explain the current situation and why their soldier's service was important.
Both ministers fielded questions from the soldiers and gave them straightforward answers.
"Sadr and his militia are bad people and do not represent the views of Iraq or Islam," Sha'alan said when a soldier asked about the Muqtada Militia. "I ask you to help out our country and get Sadr's militia out."
Both ministers asked the soldiers to continue to help their country and wished them good luck on future missions, should clearing operations resume in the city.
"We're here to help you and support you in everything you do," said Sha'alan.