Sheriff Lopey with Boy Scout Nick Schwartz
2013 Siskiyou Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Christmas Party
taken at the Siskiyou County Dept of Education where Jon delivered three chairs build for special education pre-schoolers
Mike Folkrod and Heidi Nesheim of the Foundation with Foundation Logo competition winner, Whitney Spence and Kristen Chapman of Shasta High school. Whitney was awarded a hundred dollars for her winning submission and Kristen received $20 of “Movie Bucks” as the runner up.
A Letter to the Citizens of Siskiyou County
The purpose of this letter is to thank you, my fellow Siskiyou County citizens for your support during the primary and general election. Every vote counted and was deeply appreciated! Siskiyou County citizens can be proud of the voter turn-out and their diligence demonstrated in promoting the interests of local, county, state and national governmental candidates and initiatives which effect our everyday lives now and in the future.
Again, “THANK YOU” for your extraordinary support, kindness and hospitality throughout the many months of this campaign. I also wanted to thank my opponents, Parish Cross and Bill Reed in the primary and especially Captain Jim Betts, during the general election for conducting honest, competitive, and respectable campaigns.
Whether you voted for me or not, I look forward to serving you and all citizens of Siskiyou County with determination, enthusiasm, honesty, and hard work in the weeks, months, and years to come.
I wish all of you and your families a great Holiday Season and a joyous and prosperous 2011 as we build a new future for Siskiyou County.
Sheriff-Elect Jon E. Lopey
Dear Sheriff’s Department Employees:
The purpose of this letter is to provide you a glimpse at what it is going to be like if I am your sheriff. First, if I am elected, we are going to put this election behind us and move forward. That means we will not care who supported whom for sheriff – we will care about how we can improve and in some cases sustain the various elements of the department in light of devastating budget cuts.
I am a dedicated law enforcement manager and leader and I expect everyone on the department to work hard to uphold the highest standards of the law enforcement profession. I will provide you the support, resources, leadership and “command climate” within which you can work safely, confidently and perform your job to the best of your ability. I will treat all of my co-workers with dignity and respect. All my co-workers will be treated fairly and hiring, assignments, promotions, and other personnel actions will be based on equity and fairness. For example, I have a plan to make promotions more objective in design and promote the most-qualified, most-motivated, and most-industrious employees. I also plan to place heavy emphasis on occupational safety and related officer survival training. Training at all levels, both uniformed and non-uniformed, will be key goals that I will implement during my first term, if elected. I also strongly believe in enhancing and/or maintaining key field, jail, civil, coroner, SWAT, Search and Rescue, courts, detectives, drug enforcement, EOD, crime scene investigation, and all other specialized functions within the Department through resourcing, funding, training and leadership. You are our “Unsung Heroes”.
What else do I expect from you? I expect honesty, ethical conduct, hard work, dedication and a willingness to treat citizens and co-workers with dignity and respect. I expect open and honest feedback on how we can make the department a better place to work. I expect leaders to clearly articulate the vision that the management team establishes for the department and I expect leaders to keep me informed. I will create a command climate which will maximize the potential of all employees and I will help you to succeed. All you have to do is maintain a positive outlook and make a positive effort in all endeavors. Everyone makes mistakes and I want a department where good work is rewarded and honest mistakes are used as mentoring and teaching opportunities.
I will work cooperatively with the Deputy Sheriffs Association. I will be open to any meaningful suggestions to improve departmental operations. I will support you, help your families to the extent possible and in the spirit of inter agency cooperation, I want to enhance our relations with all federal, state and local agencies in Siskiyou and contiguous counties to better accomplish our goals. I want to establish priorities, fight for what we need, and get things done in the days, weeks, months and years ahead to the best of my ability but more importantly, through each one of you, the vital employees working at all levels, we need to work together to make a difference in the lives of others.
I will always have an open door and I will encourage communications at all levels within the department. In short, I want a department where all employees feel free to discuss their concerns without fear of retribution and I want all employees to be comfortable discussing any issue with first-line supervisors, managers and sheriff.
I know you’ve heard a lot from various sources throughout this campaign; however, rest assured that if I am elected sheriff, you will be treated fairly and you will get a “square deal” each and every time, no matter what.
Thank you – I look forward to seeing you in the future. I also look forward to the great possibilities we have in the future to meet the challenges ahead with courage, determination, skill and success. We’ll all suit-up in our uniforms and get the job done and have fun doing it.
Jon E. Lopey
Candidate for Sheriff
Greetings and “THANK YOU” for all you have done to allow us to prevail during the primary election! Although we have not been advised of the final results, we received about 48.4% of the vote. Our nearest competitor, Jim Betts, received about 29.8% of the vote. The other candidates achieved a 15% and 6.9% share of the vote, respectively. All competitors worked hard and they and their families sacrificed a lot during this long and hard-fought campaign. Our thoughts and heart-felt gratitude goes out to them for competing in this race for Siskiyou County Sheriff!
I wanted to advise you all how much we all appreciate the generous support we received in all parts of the county! We were encouraged everywhere we went and although we fell just short of the 50% +1 vote required to win the election outright, we are very, very grateful for your support and the outcome of the primary election. I think that many people were surprised by the margin of support we received – THIS IS BECAUSE OF ALL OF YOU!
As you know, I had a great campaign staff (Heidi, Walt, Lonnie, Mike, Sandy, Ed, Tammy, Darrold, Jerry, Tammy, Mark, Margaret, Ed, Earline, Dan, Pat, Dave, Kim, Eldon and Laurie, Erik, Neal, Bonita, Briana, Teresa, Britany, Bill, Floyd, Carol, Mike, Linda, Randall, and many other part-timers) who were so instrumental in getting signs out, attending candidates’ forums, orchestrating and attending special events, and doing so much more to make our campaign run efficiently and so professionally. I am also proud of the fact that we kept the campaign clean and focused on our qualifications, ideas and plans, not negativity!
If you received a sign, please take them down and display them again August 2nd, which will mark the beginning of the next phase of the campaign. It appears we will be even busier in the months ahead. I am researching ways that I can jump in with both feet to assist the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Department during very challenging fiscal times.
Please pray for our deputies, correctional officers, other departmental employees and their families as the threat of possible lay-offs loom on the horizon. Obviously, any lay-offs whatsoever will be a huge loss for the county and we need to pray that this does not happen and that funding sources and other methods to reduce fiscal deficits be identified and implemented. Needless to say, such lay-offs will be devastating to the employees and family members involved; moreover, the public safety needs of this county will suffer significantly as well.
Again, thank you for your support. We will continue the fight to bring a new and prosperous era to the great men and women of the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Office and the great citizens we faithfully serve. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at (530) 859-0230.
God bless you and your families. Have a great summer!
Jon and Maxine
Dear Citizens of Siskiyou County,
My name is Jon Lopey. I am running for Sheriff of Siskiyou County and I ask for your vote.
My entire professional life has been one of public service. After nearly 33 years with the California Highway Patrol, attaining the rank of Assistant Chief, I retired April 15. I have served my country in both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U. S. Army Reserve with my current rank of Colonel. As a Colonel, I have served and led in two combat zones – Afghanistan and Iraq. I will be retiring with 38 years of service this November, however, I will not be drawing a military retirement until 2015.
I have had the privilege of serving in eight CHP Command positions with 18 years of management experience. Most of this time as a Lieutenant and Captain in North and South Siskiyou County.
Why am I running for Sheriff? I am committed to a life of public service and I am looking forward to the opportunity to give back to the community I call home. I have a community perspective coupled with a global experience that would allow me to be an effective Sheriff.
I too have family who have lived and worked their whole lives in Siskiyou County and my ancestors
were involved in the timber industry We have been Siskiyou County residents for 18 years and our children attended our local schools.
I Pledge to provide leadership, to motivate, inspire and mentor team members of the Sheriff Department to be the best law enforcement agency in the region.
I Pledge to serve our citizens with enthusiasm and compassion and I will work with other county departments and allied agencies at all levels to maximize our limited fiscal and human resources.
I Pledge to relentlessly pursue and arrest those who violate the law and victimize members of our community.
I Pledge to provide a work environment where all are treated with respect. Where honesty, integrity, hard work, and professional accomplishments are rewarded.
I Pledge to donate a portion of my Sheriff’s salary back to the community to continue programs of public service, such as the Chaplaincy Program.
I Pledge to run a clean campaign that will speak only to my experience and to what I can and will do as Sheriff. I will not speak ill of my opponents as they are all honorable men.
I Pledge to bring the talents, values and skills I have learned to the Office of Sheriff if I am elected.
On June 8th I would be honored if you voted for me, Jon Lopey, as your next Sheriff of Siskiyou County. It would be a privilege to continue serving you.
Jon E. Lopey
Two Candidate’s Forums coming up:
May 12, 7:00 p.m.
at Hammond Ranch Fire Station
May 13. 6:00 p.m.
at the Gazelle Grang
I am Siskiyou County’s #1 choice for Sheriff because I bring, by far, the most law enforcement and leadership experience (33 years in law enforcement and over 21 years in supervision and management; I have 18 years in CHP management positions, including eight (8) command positions. I have nearly 38 years active-duty and reserve experience, was a Marine sergeant at age 20 and have 30 years as a commissioned officer. I serve as a colonel and have led the great women and men of our military in places like the Philippines, Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. When I retire in April for the CHP and November from the Army, I bring unmatched education, training, and experience that the other candidates cannot come close to replicating. I have learned how to be a leader from some of the best leaders in law enforcement (mainly CHP) and the military and have served with some of America’s true heroes.
Strategic Vision: Make the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) the best law enforcement agency in the region
Strategic Goals for next 4 years: Improve crime prevention, crime response, and services provided to the people of Siskiyou County and its employees
Objectives to Achieve Vision and Goals:
1. Build a strong organization through leadership, innovation, and community involvement.
2. Organizational development and personnel development will be a major goal
I want to earn a “Triple A Rating” from the people of Siskiyou County through the following:
A = Assessments – We will continuously assess current and future operations and improve systems needing development
A = Accountability – We will be accountable (starting with the Sheriff) for all actions taken as a Department – Accountable to the people we serve and the employees within the organization.
A = Accessibility – As a sheriff, I will be accessible to all citizens and groups. I will conduct frequent “Meet the Sheriff” sessions in my office and conduct town hall meetings to allow the people to meet me, my leaders and express their concerns and suggestions.
Please Note: If you call me, your Sheriff, you will get a return phone call! In fact, I’ll start now–if you have a question for me or want me to meet you or a group in person, day or night, call me now at (530) 859 0230.
Fiscal responsibility – One of the biggest challenges in the future will be to maintain current service on patrol, jail, courts, counter-drug, dispatch, search and rescue, and other operations within the department under current and future fiscal constraints imposed by difficult economic times. We must be fiscally prudent by conserving resources when possible, emphasize “quality” over “quantity,” seek grants and interagency assistance and pursue several volunteer community-oriented policing options!
Training – Training and development of all employees, uniformed and nonuniformed will be a key objective. For example, all patrol, jail, court, investigative, dispatch, Search and Rescue, Coroner, and clerical personnel will get additional technical training and mentorship to enhance their performance and effectiveness as a team member.
Innovation – Innovations will include development of new programs, such as a Citizens’ Academy to help familiarize citizens with the department and instruction on how they can help reduce crime and help our youth populations; youth programs (e.g., athletic programs, “big brother” programs, marksmanship and gun safety, Boy Scouts, etc.) will be initiated to help our youth and their parents. We will bring back the Chaplain’s Program, which my wife and I have decided to fund by donating a portion of my salary back to the County for that purpose. We have chosen the Chaplaincy Program because the entire county benefits from that service, along with allied agencies and the sheriff’s staff as well. We will also enhance the Explorer, Neighborhood Watch, Search and Rescue, and other programs within the department. I also plan to start a Senior Volunteer Program to help the department with dwindling personnel resources in the office and dispatch operations.
Cold Case Squad – One of my main goals is to find a way to aggressively investigate unsolved homicides and missing persons cases in Siskiyou County. We will start with the cases in McCloud. As Sheriff, criminal offenders who prey on Siskiyou County’s citizens will be relentlessly pursued. We will never forget crime victims or their families! We will make Siskiyou County a safer place within which to live or visit and we will make it very uncomfortable for criminals. We will relentlessly pursue the identification, investigation, arrest, and conviction of criminals who prey on our fellow citizens!
Contract Cities – It is my position that we will pursue contract cities only with the approval and at the request of the convening city or service district authority; however, as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Siskiyou County, I stand ready to represent the department in all negotiations and I will personally take a big role in contract city operations, including attending regular meetings with our client officials in the cities we serve to ensure the department is more responsive and can make sound and timely decisions to support the citizens and leaders we serve.
“Word on the Street” from my fellow citizens indicates that there are improvements needed for the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Department. Quite frankly, I have nearly 38 years leadership experience in the Marines and Army and over 21 years leadership on the CHP, including 18 years management and command exposure. I have never worked in a law enforcement command which did not need some improvements. Even minor changes can be important. Based on this feedback from the street, the following are immediate needs which will be addressed as soon as possible after assuming office.
1. It is essential that “fairness” be returned to the administrative functions impacting our employees on the department, including hiring, promotions, assignments, training, awards, and evaluations. This topic is a major morale issue.
2. The department needs organizational and personnel development in order to improve morale and efficiency within the department.
3. Training – We need more training and consultants, which I have access to, to better prepare the department for the challenges ahead. The department should submit the best reports and investigations in the county and this takes work.
4. Leadership – Everywhere I go, leadership is mentioned. I have proven by my record, in law enforcement and the military, that I have the education, training and experience to lead the department with enthusiasm, competence and efficiency. None of my competitors have the sustained performance record I have, especially in command and management assignments. My experience as an Assistant Chief, where I managed six CHP commands with about 425 uniformed and nonuniformed personnel, coupled with my assignments in Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where I led men and women in combat and worked on the development of national police programs, cannot be even remotely matched by my competitors.
Drug enforcement: I am passionate about drug enforcement. I will support the county’s drug task force and continue to fight the proliferation of illicit drugs, especially methamphetamine and marijuana in Siskiyou County. I was a CHP Drug Recognition Expert for 20 years and made hundreds of drug arrests during my career. I have proven the ability to coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement officials to collectively attack these serious problems which causes most of the crime in Siskiyou County.
Military Experience: My military experience has helped me to remain physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually tough and resilient. From my time as a 20 year-old sergeant in the U.S. Marines, to my nearly 8 years as a colonel in the Army Reserves, I have attained more decorations, awards, and training credentials than most of my peers. On my last evaluation, my senior rater rated me in the top 10% of the colonels with whom he has served during his long and distinguished career as a brigadier general.
Second Amendment: I am a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment and fully support the “right to keep and bear arms.” I will support the continuation and possibly enhancement of concealed weapons authorizations in the county. I will aggressively pursue those criminals who violate gun-related laws but will fight for your rights under the 2nd Amendment.
I am a strong advocate for and supporter of our constitution. I will fight within the County and in Sacramento to ensure our interests are represented and our voices heard through engagement with elected officials and participation in the State Sheriff’s Association and California Peace Officer’s Association.
Emergency Planning: As the Sheriff, it is important to take a lead role in planning for and preparing for catastrophic emergencies in Siskiyou County. During the recent winter storms, many citizens in the South County were in need of guidance and assistance, which did not always materialize. My plan is to coordinate a review of existing emergency plans, conduct appropriate training, and coordinate table top, functional and full-scale exercises with other agencies at all levels within the county. For three years (01/1989 to 01/1992), I was the CHP’s Emergency Planning Unit supervisor and have extensive training and background in the Incident Command System, anti-terrorism, emergency operations and interagency emergency response disciplines. For many years, I was an anti-terrorism instructor in the U.S. Army and developed an interest in the subject when a 19 year-old Marine in the Philippines in 1974, when three U.S. Navy officers were ambushed and killed while traveling on the Subic Bay perimeter. I have served as an incident commander in numerous routine and catastrophic emergencies during my 33 year career in law enforcement.
Please contact me at anytime. My goal is to reach out to all communities of Siskiyou County and I stand ready to talk to any individual citizen or group who may have questions about my goals or positions on topics of interest.
Printed in the Siskiyou Daily News, 12/18/2009
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Greetings to my fellow citizens in Siskiyou County! I wanted to give you all an update on what was going on in Iraq, at least from my perspective. I am Col. Jon Lopey , a reserve military officer. I am currently serving as the deputy commander of the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, Baghdad, Iraq. There are a lot of important developments that have occurred in Iraq since my last article. I will briefly discuss elections, security, civil capacity and general Iraq topics of interest.
First and foremost, the Iraqi Council of Representatives have signed into law the Elections Law, which paves the way for national elections, which were scheduled to occur on Jan. 21, 2010, but now will be delayed until mid-February or the end of that month. The new law clarifies key issues involving Arab and Kurdish voting issues in the northern city of Kirkuk and, most importantly, delineates an “open list” for candidates and political parties. In essence, this means that a “hybrid” open list will allow voters to select a specific candidate or political party.
The people of Iraq strongly endorse the “open list” idea and now are even more supportive of the upcoming elections because they will predominantly select the candidates of their choice. The Council of Representatives has now been expanded to 323 seats, one seat per 100,000 Iraqis.
Gen. Odierno, the commanding general of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, recently declared that this law and its passage by the Iraqis was a major blow to the terrorists operating in Iraq. The Elections Law also provides provisions for the inclusion of minorities in the government, such as Christians, Yezedi, Sabean Mandean and Shabak. There are also provisions in the law to prevent and/or investigate reports of fraud or violations of the voting provisions.
Under the old law, voters selected a political party and that party selected the candidate. Just prior to completing this update, Iraq’s vice president (Hashimi) vetoed the voting law, and now there must be some modifications to the provisions prior to final implementation. The good news is that the Iraqis are following and exercising their constitution and working through this problem in a transparent manner. The Iraqi Council of Representatives has passed 14 laws during this session, which is a major accomplishment.
The Iraqi Security Forces (Army and police) are still doing a good job throughout the nation maintaining order and enforcing the rule of law in the 34 provinces of Iraq. There is no question, however, that the catastrophic attacks against various ministerial buildings on Aug. 19 and Oct. 25, which resulted in over 200 deaths and 1,000 injuries, were sober reminders that terrorist groups are still a lethal force to be reckoned with in Iraq. As civil affairs soldiers, we are assisting the Iraqis with civil capacity-building to help their security forces and develop basic services such as water, power, sanitation services, education, transportation, employment, medical care, agriculture and entertainment for their people.
I think women are going to be a pivotal force for change in Iraq. There are many organizations within the Iraqi ministries, United Nations, United States Department of State and non-governmental organizations attempting to assist women, especially widows, the poor, disabled and disenfranchised. An important security force development has seen women being integrated into the Iraqi Security Forces.
For example, recently, the first female class of commissioned officers (our answer to police managers) graduated from the Baghdad Police College. There were 50 female graduates out of the 1,000 officers graduating from the course. This is a great milestone for the women of Iraq and will open the door for more female recruitment and professional opportunities in the Ministry of Interior’s police forces. The next Baghdad Police College officer’s class will include 100 more women candidates.
I am still teaching a class on vehicle stops and checkpoints at the Advanced Sensitive Site Exploitation Course, which is operated by Army Military Police Criminal Investigation Division instructors and a very capable group of civilian contractors with extensive law enforcement experience in the United States. Many brave and capable American contractors, civilians and U.S. government civilians are supporting the war effort here and doing a noteworthy job for the Iraqis and their fellow Americans.
United States Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and Royal Navy (United Kingdom) sailors are training the Iraqi Navy in basic seamanship, navigation, damage control, small boat operations, picket security and weapons proficiency. Iraqi Marines are also being trained by United States Navy, Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Marines. Iraqi port facilities at Um Qasr are also increasing their international shipping and receiving capabilities.
Iraq is still building their civil capacity in areas such as sewer treatment, water, electricity, education, sanitation and public health, they have rebuilt many of their museums, sports facilities and they are nearing record highs in oil production. Recently, I was on an Iraqi Army installation and watched the Iraqi National Football (soccer) Team defeat the Palestinian team in an Iraqi stadium with 30,000 spectators on a big-screen television with some of my Iraqi partners. It is comforting to see some sense of normalcy returning to the Iraqi people.
Tourism in Iraq is being planned by Iraqi and international businesses, including companies from the United States. Many pilgrims visit holy sites in Iraq. Currently, the Hajj, or pilgrimage, is on-going. Each Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca (Saudi Arabia) once during their lifetime, if they can afford it. Thousands of Muslim people from Iraq and all over the Middle East are streaming to Mecca, many of them transiting through Iraq.
Iraq has substantial natural resources such as oil (fourth largest oil reserves in the world), water and farmland (28 million acres; 26 percent arable), and has an economy in excess of $112 billion, which is growing over 7 percent a year. The nation also has a welleducated populace with aliteracy rate of 74 percent, which is high compared to many countries in the region. Investors from Germany, France, Korea, China, the United States and Japan have invested or are exploring investment opportunities, and currently , oil is one of the big attractions for in ternational investment.
Iraq is currently producing 1.9 to 2.0 million barrels a day (MBPD) oil production (estimated as high as 2.4 MBPD). These levels are prewar levels, and many outside investors are negotiating with Iraq to further enhance Iraq’s capacity to produce oil, which should be a significant boost to the Iraqi economy and governmental budgets in the future. Iraq may boost its oil capacity to 6.0MBPD in the years to come if the state owned and international investment plans come to fruition, which is likely.
Our men and women are fighting with utmost courage, commitment and resolve. The partnership between the United States, Coalition and Iraqi forces is growing stronger daily. We as service men and women grieve the loss of any soldier, airman, sailor, Marine, Coast Guardsmen, civilian or Iraqi counterpart in this war; however, the United States suffered one combat loss and six noncombat losses in October. It is never a good month when you sustain losses, but comparatively speaking, it was a month which produced significantly less combat deaths than we have seen in a long time. If it wasn’t for the tragic bombing of the Ministry of Justice on Oct. 25, which killed about 161 Iraqis and injured over 600, it would have been a comparatively good month for the Iraqis as well. Based on averages, attacks are down and the frequency of deaths and injuries sustained by the Iraqi and coalition forces are moving downward, which, if these improvements can be sustained, is a “good news story .”
Please be mindful of the fact that as of Tuesday , Nov . 10, 836 U. S. servicemen and women had lost their lives in Afghanistan and contiguous areas and 4,362 servicemen and women have died in Iraq. These are tragic losses, but the professionalism, training, readiness, equipment, weapons systems, leadership and bravery of our men and women in uniform and the civilians who support them have greatly reduced the number of combat deaths, woundings and injuries sustained by our Armed Forces and civilian work force here and throughout the globe.
A small world
It is indeed a small world. I recently met up with another Siskiyou County resident, Col. William “Rudy” Arruda, an old friend and former law enforcement work associate. Rudy is a colonel in a California based Military Police unit, and we are working together on a plan to facilitate training for the Federal Police. It is good to see this unit, Rudy and other familiar faces.
I have been working with Col. Arruda quite often lately, as we prepare our training plans for the Iraqi Federal Police. He is responsible for Iraqi Police Training Teams, which are separate from the Federal Police organization I have been affiliated with. Rudy is doing a great job and all Californians can be proud of this distinguished unit and their fine soldiers.
On the lighter side, I had the pleasure of seeing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month when he visited our base. He was here to visit members of the California National Guard. I saw a couple members of the governor’s security team I knew and while saying hello, I had the opportunity to shake the governor’s hand and thank him for visiting Iraq in support of our troops. One of the security officers, a CHP officer, is a former Siskiyou County resident and son of Larry Beckby of Mount Shasta.
I am still on a firebase, which was at one time home to the Ba’thistParty Headquarters, guest houses for the rich and famous in Iraq and the region, Iraqi Military Staff College and the large, luxurious Al Faw Palace, one of 75 palaces and VIP complexes throughout Iraq, built during the Sadam Hussein regime. There were45 palaces and VIP guesthouses just within the Baghdad area. Sadam Hussein built 2/ 3 of these palaces during 1991 to 2003, when the “Oil for Food Program” was underway and United Nations sanctions made such expenditures difficult. Hussein had a series of fresh water lakes and canals built on this large complex. He was so paranoid about germs that he had the water purified prior to being pumped into the lakes and canals for his enjoyment and the use by highranking party officials, political figures and military officers.
There are many other projects being completed in cooperation with the Iraqis to improve their ability to govern and protect their people. Recently, my brigade’s Public Health Team conducted a training session in the Ninewa Province to train midwives on safer ways to deliver babies. This area had an infant mortality rate nine times that found in the U. S. We have other team members working in support of the Baghdad International Airport, and a team is working on vocational training for Iraqis and others are working on agricultural programs, the second biggest economic sector in Iraq. We are bringing our mission here to a close, but we are cognizant that this is still a war zone and good people are dying, mostly Iraqis as they win the peace with their lives. A couple of weeks ago we took a few enemy rockets, which landed in the vicinity of our work and living areas on our base. They were likely Iranian made rockets that were provided to the insurgents. The assistance and support provided to Al Qaida and other terrorist groups by Syria and Iran is still a key factor in this war, and such complicity on the part of these neighbor nations is killing innocent Iraqis and Americans. This recent attack wounded six U. S. service members and two civilian contractors supporting our efforts here.
Another recent experience I had that I would like our county residents to hear about was a recent U. S. Naturalization Ceremony conducted at the Al Faw Palace for military service members. Gen. Odierno, Multi-National Forces-Iraq commanding general, and Lt. Gen. Jacoby, Multi-National Corps-Iraq commanding general, (my immediate higher head quarters) were guest speakers, along with officials from Washington, D. C. and the Department of State. About 150 servicemen and women, currently serving in Iraq were granted their citizenship at this ceremony. It was great to see these fine warriors earn their citizenship and it was humbling and heartening to see that there are those in our nation who are willing to fight for the right of citizenship. It reminded all in attendance how precious our citizenship really is and what it takes at times to earn that right to call yourself an American.
We are staying busy here in Iraq and the weather is turning cold. It actually fluctuates from the 40s to the 70s this time of the year, and it has rained twice recently. That is a big change from the summer when the temperatures were approaching 120 degrees.
I also have the pleasure of visiting my nephew, Thomas, who is serving on a nearby fire base with a Fort Lewis, WA based infantry unit. He, like all of our young service men and women, make me proud to wear the uniform of our Armed Forces. I currently have another nephew, Jacob, serving with the Nevada Army National Guard in Afghanistan. Another Yreka area native, Specialist Aaron Prosvirnin, is serving as a paratrooper in Afghanistan.
I have to go now. I will give you another update prior to my departure. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and I wish you all a joyous Christmas holiday season!
Copyright © 2009 Siskiyou Daily News
Victory Base Camp, Baghdad – I am the deputy commander (XO) of the 364th Civil Affairs (CA) Brigade. We are currently stationed in Baghdad. We are providing operational, administrative and logistics support to our three subordinate CA battalions, which are stationed in various locations throughout Iraq. Our main objective is to provide interface between the combatant commanders and Iraqi civilian authorities. Our main mission is to build Iraqi civil capacity in order to provide essential services and rule of law to their citizens.
For example, the United States, in partnership with our Iraqi counterparts and the United States Department of State (USDOS) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), help the Iraqis build and maintain sewage systems, water plants, electrical grids, schools, sanitation removal systems and clinics. We also assist with economic development through small businesses. Army and Marine tactical units in the field are using the Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds and the expertise of civil affairs and engineer soldiers to fund critical civil capacity projects; however, most projects during this phase of the operation are no longer being approved because we are transitioning our initiatives to the government of Iraq. We assist the Iraqi Army, and to a limited extent the police, with the development of their own civil military operational (CMO) capabilities.
One of my most memorable experiences was teaching CMO classes to Iraqi Army brigade and battalion commanders and staff at the Iraqi Counterinsurgency Academy. We also mentor Iraqi Army counterparts in the Combined Partnering Operations Center (CPOC), which is a part of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command (IGFC), in Baghdad. In the near future, a team I helped form will help train the Iraqi Federal Police and we may assist with Iraqi police advanced training as well.
The CPOC is the nerve center of the IGFC and although we assist the Iraqis, they are leading the effort. Recently, U.S. forces moved out of the major cities and now security is the responsibility of the Iraqi Army and police forces. General O’Dierno, the Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNFI) Commanding General, has been here a long time and is very supportive of turning over the bulk of the security responsibilities in Iraq to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), which is going well. Our unit works for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNCI), which is headed by Lieutenant General Jacobi. MNCI is made up of soldiers from the Northwest’s 1st Corps, from Fort Lewis, Wash.
MNFI and MNCI, responsible for stability operations and security, respectively, have a great rapport with the coalition and Iraqi forces. USDOS is involved in many civil capacity and rule of law initiatives, and they also work closely with other international agencies such as the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the European Union. One of the generals I work for, Brigadier General Peter Bayer, was a fellow student at the Joint Forces Staff College. He is one of the Army’s finest leaders and earned a Silver Star while serving with the 3rd Infantry Division during the initial invasion of Iraq. My former commander, Brigadier General William Beard, is serving as one of our bosses as well.
One thing that has struck me about this and other deployments in the Middle East is the intelligence, commitment, fortitude, bravery, quiet professionalism and unwavering dedication of our fighting men and women as we wage this war against terrorists in partnership with our Iraqi counterparts. Although Iraq is much safer than it was one year ago, we are still losing soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilian contractors in this epic struggle. As of last Wednesday, Aug. 26, 4,335 U.S. servicemen and women and military civilian contractors had been killed in Iraq. As of Sunday, there had been at least 725 servicemen and women killed in the Afghanistan Joint Operational Area.
I would like to add that most of the casualties in this war are the innocent men, women and children of Iraq who fall prey to the murderous attacks of the terrorists, who typically care nothing about the largely helpless people they kill and maim. You have heard on the news that the U.S. forces have pulled out of the cities and are now poised to drawdown from their large-scale military operations in Iraq. The terrorist groups, including Al Qaida, are a formidable foe; however, our servicemen and women have never lost a battle or skirmish above the fire team level to any of the insurgents. Even the best-trained terrorist is no match for our brave men and women warriors. They resort to their bombs, but remember, they primarily kill innocent civilians. The terrorists are attempting to take advantage of our withdrawal from the cities and they are primarily attacking Iraqi security forces and civilians in order to undermine the citizenry’s confidence in their government. The U.S. forces are moving rapidly to a transition with the government of Iraq and other stakeholders. The many civil capacity and essential service projects we have financed and/or planned with our Iraqi counterparts will soon be passed off to them or international agencies.
There are many success stories out there about what is going well over here. For example, oil is being exported at levels not seen since the war started. Electricity production is 24 percent higher than the previous year. Iraq has the second-highest infant mortality rate in the Middle East (43.8 deaths per thousand); however, Iraqi doctors, health care workers, and members of the coalition are helping to train, advise and assist the Iraqis in reducing this tragic statistic. Education is being enhanced and the 5 million illiterate people in Iraq are getting a chance to learn to read and write. Civil capacity, which we Americans often take for granted, are improving in Iraq but imagine if your city or our county did not have adequate clean water, electricity, sewage treatment, public transportation, medical care, schools, or capable public safety capabilities such as police, fire, emergency medical response, corrections facilities and/or juvenile facilities.
Next to oil, agriculture has the greatest impact on the economy, and great strides are being made to improve agricultural technology, training and productivity. Recently, there was a 78-percent voter turn-out for the presidential and parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Regional Government area, which is a major region of Northern Iraq. The Iraqis and coalition are gearing up for the national Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2010. Most importantly, the Iraqis are shouldering the bulk of the security burden at this time and they have also been targeted by insurgent groups. Iraqi Army and police forces are under fire daily from terrorists attempting to disrupt the peace.
I have found the average Iraqi to be courageous. They want freedom, and they are tired of the bloodshed. Al Qaida and other terrorist groups are still terrorizing the country, but their efforts are often thwarted by Iraqi Security Forces and to a lesser degree now, by coalition forces (us). There are still far fewer people being killed here when compared to the past, but our goal and the objective of the Iraqis is to significantly reduce terrorist acts and the sectarian violence (Sunni, Kurd, Shi’a, Christian, etc.) and stabilize all 18 provinces of Iraq. Most provinces are relatively peaceful. We are winning. The Iraq people and their security forces are winning. Terrorists still use cowardly tactics, since over 90 percent of the innocent men, women and children killed by them are killed with explosive devices.
We will soon be able to move the bulk of our combat and support forces out of Iraq and turn the mission over to the Iraqis. We will remain in smaller numbers to provide advice and assistance, but most U.S. forces will be gone by this time next year. I am impressed with our leaders, the Iraqi resolve and the support of the Iraqi people for reforms. The national elections will be an important milestone and will further steel the resolve of the Iraqis to rule their own destiny. We are proud to serve in this war effort but soon, I will be home and will retire from the Army. I have two nephews, one with the 2nd Infantry Division who will soon arrive in Iraq. I have another nephew serving in Afghanistan and he and his squad were engaged by Taliban forces during his first week. Iran has been assisting some insurgent groups with overt and covert aid. They are causing American casualties and deaths. Other countries in the region are fomenting discord and sectarian divides in Iraq as well. We are talking about the ability of the free men, women and children of Iraq to live their lives without the fear of oppression and indiscriminate and unmitigated violence and murderous attacks. We are also laying the foundation for future reforms here and perhaps in other parts of the world by the democratic processes implemented in Iraq. I think equally important is the resolve to finish the job right that we started over six years ago.
This is an interesting country with a lot of history. Iraq has many archeological sites and many locations within Iraq are amongst the most mentioned places in the Bible. For example, Ninewah Province was the home of Jonah and Abraham lived in Southern Iraq. The firebase we are occupying was once Sadam Hussein’s recreational playground for the elite of Iraq, especially members of the Ba’ath Party. A nearby palace, which was one of many built by Saddam Hussein, houses U.S. forces. When I exercise and run around a nearby man-made lake, I pass another smaller palace which housed Saddam while he was being tried for crimes against the Iraqi people. Another structure nearby housed the Ba’ath Party Headquarters prior to the war. Saddam’s family resided in the area as well, including his sons. His palaces, which he built in numerous locations within Baghdad and throughout the country, are large, opulent, luxurious structures which he sometimes visited only a few days out of any given year.
Last week, I got an email from Major Kevin Charter, another Mount Shasta resident and Marine company commander. He is serving in Ramadi with a friend of mine from the CHP, 1LT Bob Jones (captain on the CHP). The Marines are doing a great job in Multi-National Forces-West, and his Marines are doing a fabulous job in Ramadi. We also have some other heroes from Siskiyou County who have served in Iraq. Ivan and Aaron Prosvirnin have both served in this war. Ivan just got out of the Army after serving a combat tour as a decorated Army Ranger. Aaron is serving as an Army paratrooper. It is great to see so many fine Siskiyou County soldiers and Marines serving their country. I know there are many other men and women from our county who have served faithfully since September 11, 2001, and we should be proud of them all, and the veterans who have gone before us.
When you see a serviceman or woman, or any veteran, and most of all, their family members, thank them for their service, especially as we approach Veterans Day in November. This has been a long, hard fight and they have sacrificed their all, often during multiple deployments. Our servicemen and women, contractors (civilian workers), the Iraqis, our coalition partners, and our families deserve our respect, admiration, prayers and support, regardless of what way the political winds of change take this nation. Often times, the families who stay behind while we deploy are the ones who have the toughest job and all too frequently, they are not given the credit and thanks they truly deserve. Many thanks should also go to the vast majority of the American people who support our troops.
Thank you for providing me the opportunity to give you my thoughts on my part of the war. I greatly appreciate the support the fine citizens of Siskiyou County provide to our servicemen and women. I hope everyone has a great Labor Day.
Colonel Jon E. Lopey
Colonel Jon E. Lopey has a total of 37 years active-duty and reserve service in the United States Marine Corps, Army National Guard and Army Reserve. He has served in a variety of command and staff assignments in the Military Police, Infantry and Civil Affairs branches. Colonel Lopey is serving in his fifth Presidential Select Reserve Call-Up mobilization (Haiti, Bosnia on two occasions, Afghanistan, and his current assignment in Iraq).
He also served over one year in the Republic of the Philippines as a Marine. During 2006, Colonel Lopey served six weeks in Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of a Central Commander (CENTCOM) assessment team, where he evaluated the readiness of the Iraqi and Afghan ministries of interior (police forces). His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with “V” device, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Forces Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Services Achievement Medal and the Army Achievement Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
Colonel Lopey has earned numerous campaign and service awards, including the Afghan Medal of Merit, awarded to him by President Karzai, in behalf of Minister Jalali (Afghanistan). Colonel Lopey also earned the U.S. Army Parachutist Badge and Combat Action Badge. Colonel Lopey is a 32-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol (CHP), where he still serves as an assistant chief.