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Published:October 21st, 2006 04:52 EST
Zaytun Division creates results

Zaytun Division creates results

By SOP newswire

When shared, sorrow is halved and happiness is doubled.  So say the troops of the Republic of Korea’s Zaytun Division, which began civil military operations in Irbil in September 2004.

At Camp Zaytun, not far from the Irbil International Airport, 2,200 Korean service members perform a variety of medical services, vocational training and reconstruction projects to better the lives of Irbil province residents and support economic development.

“You are an example of what is possible for all of Iraq,” Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, spokesman, Multi-National Force-Iraq, told Zaytun Division Commanding General Hwang Eui-don after viewing ongoing activities at Camp Zaytun. Praising the remarkable achievements of the Korean Coalition partners in Irbil, Caldwell said, “Thank you for what you do. The people here are fortunate to have you helping them.” 

With the motto that “We are friends,” the Zaytun Division ran literacy programs; built community centers; trained and advised Iraqi Army and Police units; and constructed 15 schools, 10 public health clinics, and 60 village water wells. In addition, they put up power transmission lines and developed public parks, paved roads, and sent local business developers and leaders for overseas training in Korea.

A hospital at Camp Zaytun serves the community with operating rooms, dental care and other departments including neurology, internal medicine, orthopedic and oriental medicines. 

“The people at first were afraid of oriental medicine” like acupuncture, hospital director LTC Lee Hae Seol said, “But now it is very popular.” The 19 doctors and 15 nurses have treated over 40,000 local patients since it opened two years ago and they also train local medical care givers. “The Koreans are more precious than gold to us,” one patient at the clinic told a visiting camera crew.

Students learn about air condition maintenance at a the Vocational Training Center at Camp Zaytun. Official Department of Defese photo.
Students learn about air condition maintenance at a the Vocational Training Center at Camp Zaytun. Official Department of Defese photo.
A Vocational Training Center has offered classes to more than 1,000 residents in computers and baking, as well maintenance and repair of home appliances, generators and cars. Local input determined which classes would benefit the local economy.  They also trained Iraqis to teach these classes, so the training is sustainable. 

Multi National Force-Iraq Commanding General George W. Casey, Jr. called the training center “a model for other parts of Iraq in the training of the militias and insurgents to become productive members of society.”

Back at his headquarters here, Casey said programs like these are great contributions to stabilizing Northern Iraq. “I have visited the Zaytun division several times and I am always impressed with how they have used civil missions to bring stability to that region,” he added. 

South Korea maintains the third largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq, following the U.S. and Britain. The Republic of Korea began operating in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 in Southern Iraq.  In September 2004, they moved to the northern province of Irbil. The name 'Zaytun', which means “olive” in Arabic, stresses the peacekeeping and reconstruction role of the division.