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Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Progress in Iraq

With all the bad news that our major media reports on from Iraq, it seems that no one is willing to show the progress and the successes that are being accomplished there. So, since I make it a point to post about the good news coming from Iraq often, I now bring you further good news, progress and success happening in Iraq.

Dec. 8, 2006
Release A061208a


– Coalition Forces killed 20 terrorists Friday morning while targeting al-Qaida terrorists in the Thar Thar area.

Coalition Forces targeted the location based on intelligence reports that indicated associates with links to multiple al-Qaida in Iraq networks were operating in the area.

Ground forces were searching buildings at the targeted location when they began receiving heavy machine gunfire from one of the buildings. The ground forces returned fire, killing two armed terrorists.

Despite efforts to subdue the remaining armed terrorists, Coalition Forces continued to be threatened by enemy fire, causing forces to call in close air support. A Coalition aircraft performed the air strike, resulting in 18 more armed terrorists killed.

During a search of the objective, Coalition Forces found multiple weapons caches consisting of AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-personnel mines, explosives, blasting caps and suicide vests. All these items were destroyed on site.

Coalition Forces also found that two of the terrorists killed were women. Al-Qaida in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations unfortunately.

This is another step closer to defeating al-Qaida in Iraq and helping establish a safe and peaceful Iraq. Coalition Forces will continue to target not only senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders, but all terrorists regardless of their titles or positions within the community.

RELEASE No. 20061209-14

Dec. 9, 2006

IA captures insurgent cell leaders during raid

Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO

– 7th Iraqi Army Division forces, with Coalition advisors, captured two
insurgent cell leaders during a raid Dec. 9 in Ta’meem near Ramadi. The insurgent cell
leaders are believed to be responsible for emplacing improvised explosive devices,
trafficking weapons and abducting Iraqi civilian and Iraqi Security Forces.

The insurgent cell leaders and their groups are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq.
They are also allegedly responsible for coordinating and conducting small arms attacks
against Iraqi Security Forces.

Iraqi forces detained three additional insurgent cell members during the raid.
There was minimal damage done to the objective. There were no Iraqi civilian,
Iraqi forces or Coalition forces casualties.

Last but not least, our soldiers pride in their success:

Learning, teaching and growing in Iraq.
Friday, 08 December 2006

BAGHDAD — Projects under the U.S.-led reconstruction program in Iraq were initiated in the understanding that in an asymmetric war, progress is most clearly witnessed at the local level.

For both the Iraqi people and the Coalition engineers and Soldiers involved, reconstruction efforts to restore essential services and develop the capacity for future economic growth have also come as a learning experience.

With Soldiers, contractors and Iraqi residents often working side by side on construction, the groups gain an understanding of each others' cultures and viewpoints at the same time as they create a stake for the surrounding communities in seeing the national stabilization effort succeed.

For 1st Lt. Dawn Harrison, a Mississippi Army Reservist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the work is a crucial part of the overall struggle to stand up the nation.

"These structures directly benefit the Iraqi people and are among hundreds of such projects our staff is overseeing to improve essential services and help turn this country around," she said.

With oversight of $45 million of construction in Baghdad, her projects include the Academy of Health and Science, the Secure Documents Storage Facility, and the Al Mamoon telecommunications complex.

"Our workload is demanding, averaging 12 hours each day," Harrison said. "But I do enjoy the job, interacting with the Iraqis, learning their culture and customs [and] just being part of this effort to help them establish a democracy."

The $4.6 million Academy of Health and Sciences will feature a health clinic including treatment rooms, dental exam rooms, pharmacy, x-ray room, and a vaccination area, as well as classrooms, an auditorium and a library. The facility will train students interested in becoming healthcare providers.

"That structure is very important because it's where future doctors and nurses will train, as well a facility where local residents can get medical care," explained Harrison.

Supporting Iraq's criminal justice system, the Secure Documents Storage Facility will provide a safe storage area for courthouse documents, including records from the Saddam Hussein trials.

The $22.7 million Al Mamoon Exchange and Telecommunications Center will serve as a hub to connect Iraq to the world by means of several floors of communications switch gear. The Iraqi Ministry of Communication offices will be located there, as well as a post office, auditorium, exhibition hall and numerous conference rooms. The center is expected to be completed next year.

And like many reconstruction projects, the Al Mamoon complex relies heavily on local labor. About 400 Iraqis serve on the construction crew. Harrison explained their involvement comes with its own set of challenges.

"On these projects, Iraqi contractors don't necessarily follow the same standards we follow in the United States. That's where mentoring plays a key role, and for the most part they're very receptive," she said. "They're proud of their work and want to do the best job possible."

Harrison also described how mentorship and interaction in such a contained environment has brought unexpected results. Her team includes three females – two Iraqi quality assurance representatives and herself. Both Iraqi women are trained engineers.

"They're smart, detail oriented, and eager to learn," Harrison said. "Iraqi women don't normally get an opportunity to be on a work site as they're usually assigned office duties such as design work. We've got great camaraderie and the contractors respect the knowledge we bring to the job."

Harrison feels she, too, has benefited from her role in Iraq, aside from just cultural exposure.

"Every day is a learning opportunity and there's no question the experience I've had here would take 5 to 10 years to accumulate stateside," she said.

The Mississippi native pointed out her projects deal with a variety of engineering challenges, including excavation, backfilling, foundations, erecting steel columns, rebar and concrete placement.

While the obstacles to the reconstruction program have been well documented, especially in Baghdad and the surrounding area, projects like Harrison's continue to make progress. Their completion – even the act of building in many cases – serves as an important part of the Iraq stabilization effort.

Iraqi involvement in the projects generates employment, imparts skills and knowledge and builds camaraderie with Coalition Force, while the construction enables the Iraqi government to provide services to its people and expands the country's capacity for growth.

Harrison explained, "In some areas, we started with an empty lot full of brush and weeds, in others we had to remove a bombed-out structure, but in all cases we're helping the Iraqis build their future."

Our soldiers realize the good they are doing, the progress they are making and they also realize who it is they are trying to help. Too bad their countrymen do not acknowledge this.

Others discussing this:
Flopping Aces.
Security WatchTower.

For those that care to see the good our fine troops are doing in Iraq, visit Operation Iraqi Freedom.