Chairman of Baghdad province rural projects committee visits 2nd BCT AO
Baghdad province's rural services committee chairman visited leaders from three rural farming communities in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division's area of operations March 13. The communities of Sayafiyah, Arab Jabour and Hawr Rajab conveyed the same message to Chairman Sobhy al-Mashhadany -- the streets are safer and local leaders are willing to work with the Government of Iraq to receive assistance for infrastructure projects...
By Sgt. Luis Delgadillo
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, March 15, 2008 -- Baghdad province's rural services committee chairman visited leaders from three rural farming communities in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division's area of operations March 13.
The communities of Sayafiyah, Arab Jabour and Hawr Rajab conveyed the same message to Chairman Sobhy al-Mashhadany -- the streets are safer and local leaders are willing to work with the Government of Iraq to receive assistance for infrastructure projects.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade facilitated the movement of the chairman, Coalition leaders and members of the State Department's Provincial Reconstruction Teams via two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
At their first stop, Mashhadany was the featured speaker at a meeting with Sheiks from the community of Sayafiyah located on the western bank of the Tigris River south of the Capital.
However, the highlight of the trip occurred at Mashhadany's second stop where he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Yusifiyah Pump Station 1, in Arab Jabour.
In the months after their arrival in June of 2007, Soldiers of the 1-30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, eliminated many of their enemies allowing them to meet the local leaders of Arab Jabour and assist in the rebuilding of the area's critical infrastructure.
One of the area's most important projects was the repair and refurbishment of Yusifiyah Water Pump Station 1.
With the majority of residents of Arab Jabour depending largely on water to keep their farms for income, the three remaining functional pumps barely provided enough water to keep its canal system full.
To avoid any bureaucratic delays, Coalition forces worked directly with the Ministry of Irrigation and hired contractors to deliver, repair and emplace the new pumps.
Nine of the 12 pumps were open at the time of the ribbon cutting, and Mashhadany rejoiced with community leaders. He said he would be sending personnel to conduct assessments for GoI project funding.
The chairman also visited Patrol Base Hawkes and met with the leader of Rashid District's Iraqi Police, Lt. Col. Muhammed who was conducting the last day of a four-day Iraqi Police recruiting event. The recruitment drive was the first ever for the region.
Mashhadany's last stop was Hawr Rajab, where he spoke to students participating in the Village of Hope project. The project is a vocational school designed to train Hawr Rajab citizens in the basics of construction.
He spoke to the more than 50 students at the school to reinforce the importance of self sufficiency and reconstruction.
While in Hawr Rajab, Mashhadany also toured a school in session as well as a school and medical clinic in its final days on reconstruction. Though the school and clinic are being renovated with Coalition funds, plans are in the works to have the Ministries of Education and Health staff the facilities.
The visit was intended to give Mashhadany awareness of some of the concerns held by community leaders in sparsely populated farming regions in the province.
Though these rural communities have tribal and community leaders who cooperate with Coalition forces to take care of security and emergency relief projects, many of the rural communities lack official representation from the GoI.
Hussein Shaho, bilingual-bicultural advisor with the Baghdad-7 embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, said larger councils such as the Rashid District council, which is responsible for many of the communities in the 2nd BCT area of operations, are making strides in still establishing ties with sheiks and tribal leaders.
Prior to the arrival of the 2nd BCT Hussein said the Rashid District council was unable to reach residents in the area south of Baghdad because of al-Qaeda's overwhelming presence in the area.
In a display of solidarity with the people of the farming communities Mashhadany's message to them was that the fledgling community governance councils do matter and they would have a voice.