Being an asset to a unit, company, organization, community, or indeed your family is something to aspire to and strive for.
U.S. Army Specialist Fadj Mallouhi, a Syrian-born Soldier, is definitely an asset to his unit.
Born in Syria but raised in the United States, Spc. Mallouhi is now using his cultural and language expertise to assist his unit and fellow troops in their deployment to Middle East.
“Being from Syria helps me in a lot of ways, including bringing diversity in my section, being paid more for knowing another language, and being a valuable asset to my unit as I communicate with locals and translate information,” said Spc. Mallouhi in a press release. “It could save someone’s life and keep people within our unit from being disrespectful to the civilians here.”
Mallouhi is a Computer/Detection Systems Repairer assigned to Headquarter Support Company, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade. He and his unit are currently deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the fight against the Islamic State.
Adding more flavor to the story is the fact that Mallouhi’s father served in the Syrian military’s special operations forces before he came to the US.
Mallouhi was born in Allentown, near Pennsylvania, to Syrian emigres. During his childhood, he regularly traveled to the birthplace of his family, Homs, Syria. It was during these trips that he learned so much about Syrian and Arabic culture.
“The way I see it, I’m in a position to inform and highly encourage others to respect and learn the lifestyle,” said Mallouhi. “This can make the Army have better mission-capable Soldiers and have fewer incidents that could cost American lives.”
Mallouhi provided a great example of how American troops have be offending the local population, thereby losing an opportunity to gain their hearts and minds.
“When a Soldier gives someone a thumbs-up here, they’re actually insulting them without even knowing it,” said Mallouhi. “Then the locals will think that Americans are a bunch of rude people.”
Although the U.S. doesn’t intend on staying in Syria, and so American troops can get away with such cultural mishaps, situational awareness is always key regardless of the environment.
Speaking about the differences between America and Syria, Mallouhi said that “While it is my family’s homeland and it is beautiful, it is not somewhere I see being a peaceful place in the future and I do not see a successful future full of opportunities like I do in the U.S.,” added Mallouhi.
Although major action against ISIS is over, the remnants of the terrorist organization that spurted in 2014 are still threatening the region. The US-led coalition has conducted more than 35,000 airstrikes against the group.