Soldiers serve as linguists; ambassadorsWritten by Maj. William Mott, STT, 1st Bn., 12th Cav. Regt. UPAR, 3rd AAB, 1st Cav. Div. Tuesday, April 26, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRAH, Iraq – Most of us are familiar with the local national interpreters, however there is a new generation of Soldiers born from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and developed into combat multipliers for Operation New Dawn; U.S. Soldier interpreters under the military occupational specialty O-9L Linguist here in Basrah, Iraq.
They are referred to as “oh-nine-leemahs,” Arabic speaking Americans who have joined the U.S. military to serve as linguists.
Spc. Ali Gamah, originally from Iraq and Spc. Ehab Amer, from Egypt, are two examples of this new breed of Soldiers and are deployed with Stability Transition Teams (STT) within 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. “I came into my mission at the Basrah Operations Center (BaOC) with all the concerns and fears that I have as an American Soldier born and raised in Basrah,” said Gamah.
Initially, he thought translating his native language into English would be an easy job but quickly realized his tasks were more extensive. From coordinating convoys without violating operational security to coordinating with Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) for missions with U.S. forces, his job is not easy.
The BaOC conducts 24-hour operations. The five-person team manages the BaOC convoys to accomplish the counter indirect fire patrols, humanitarian aid missions, Provincial Reconstruction Team movements, ISF convoys and training tasks.
Gamah has been performing this pivotal job since February with Spc. Ehab Amer. Amer, who calls Alaska home, joined the STT by way of Fort Irwin, Calif.
Amer said he is impressed with the level of responsibility he has in translating information for U.S. and Iraqi officers concerning military intelligence.
“Spc. Gamah and I have developed a high level of cooperation with the entire Iraqi staff, and they readily share concerns they get from the Iraqi ground forces,” said Amer. ...