Interpreters Break the Silence


By Cpl. Matthew ‘Aussie’ Orr

An Nasiriyah, IRAQ–Without the use of interpreters in this Arabic speaking country, American Forces would find it extremely hard to gather information from the local residents. The Free Iraqi Forces (FIF) is a close-knit group of individuals, many of who left Iraq after the Gulf War to live in the United States.

In support of Task Force Tarawa these Iraqis are serving as interpreters and liaisons between the Marines and local Iraqi residents. Their role is a crucial one and aids in the accomplishment of the Task Force’s mission.

“The FIF are strictly interpreters, and that’s it,” said Capt.

Peter Tabash, civil affairs officer, 4th civil affairs group (CAG). “They are not (intelligence) collectors.”

“They work closely with civil affairs as they do not have interpreters with them. Almost all of their work involves dealing with the local civilian populace,” said Tabash.

The program began in the United States when the U.S. Army recruited some Iraqi freedom fighters to work in conjunction with the U.S. military.

“They were then sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, for training and from there they went to Hungary for a month of specialized training in civil affairs and there, were also taught how the (U.S.) military operates,” said Tabash.

They were taught other subjects during the training.

“We were trained in communication, politics and computers,” said Mousa al Mousa, an interpreter with the FIF that has been working closely with the 4th CAG.

The FIF’s role has been instrumental in dealing with the local populations.

“They have been a great help, especially with the translation of the general speech, interpreting and also with a lot of the documents that have been confiscated. Plus they know the populace very well and the people aren’t reluctant to open up to them,” he said.

The role of the FIF has been crucial to the success of the military here.

“I feel great about what I am doing,” said Mousa. “It is what I have been trained to do and what I have wanted for a long time.”