Former Niles man in Baghdad

Published 1:54 pm Thursday, July 5, 2007

By By CALEB SCHABER / Niles Daily Star
BAGHDAD, Iraq – For over a year, Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Foster has been deployed in Iraq. Foster, 57, a former resident of Niles and a member of the Indiana National Guard, arrived last year in Iraq with the 38th DISCOM known as "Task Force Indy," where he works at Camp Victory as the top enlisted man in the garrison.
His fourth of July was spent in Baghdad, where the sky is filled with a different kind of fireworks. The 38th DISCOM provide the services such as billeting, electricity, water, internet, transportation and waste removal. They take care of the needs of soldiers fighting outside the base. When returning to the barracks, or when passing through the Victory base Complex (VBC), the 38th DISCOM make sure the soldiers are as comfortable as they can be.
Outside the barrier and razor wire of Camp Victory, the war rages on. Explosions are seen and heard regularly, throughout the day and night.
The work of the 38th DISCOM has not gone unnoticed. General David Petraeus, top military commander in Iraq, recently commented that "Task Force Indy has done a magnificent job.
"Overseeing a multitude of security and logistical tasks, the members of the Task Force enable tens of thousands of our troopers at the Victory Base complex to focus on their jobs and leave the rest to Task Force Indy," he continued. "The members of the Task Force are a credit to the Indiana National Guard and America's Army."
Foster served in Vietnam just after graduating Niles High School in 1968. His grandparents used to send him the Niles Daily Star while he was deployed in that war. Foster served as a helicopter gunner.
The work Foster does now is much different from his days in Vietnam.
"As Garrison Command Sergeant Major, I deal with issues that affect installation and the units stationed here," Foster said.
He said that he thinks the military is doing a much better job now than it did in Vietnam on all levels, but especially with our troops being more disciplined and protecting human rights.
With military units deploying and redeploying, Foster said that the 38th Discom's job is never 100% complete. There are always new soldiers to assist, he said, and compared it to being a teacher in school, getting new students.
"The job I have fits my qualifications and background," Foster said. "I don't have the answers to everything, but I can find the person who does."
The 38th DISCOM will return home before the end of the summer. Foster lives in South Bend when not deployed.