August 3rd, 2007 04:40 EST
IA, Stryker leaders assess progress in Baqubah
BAQUBAH — Leaders from the 5th Iraqi Army Division and the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, traveled together to assess progress in several neighborhoods of Baqubah, Iraq, July 31.
As Operation Arrowhead Ripper continues, the effort has shifted from combat operations to reconstruction and humanitarian missions. The Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and provincial council members are leading the majority of the projects. Many residents have joined in to do their part to improve their city.
Lt. Col. Wa’el Hashim, the civil affairs officer for the 5th IA Div., and members of the division visited west Baqubah neighborhoods Khatoon and Mufrek to confirm whether or not damaged infrastructure has been fixed and to determine what other services require immediate attention such as water, power, food and reparations to civilians.
During this mission, Wa’el rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty as he helped pull out a damaged water main line from the muddy ground, helped residents carry bags of rice and flour at a food distribution point and helped the division engineers get started in clearing streets of debris and trash.
“You’ve got the (Iraqi Army) embracing civil military operations and fixing to help the community,” said Lt. Col. Fred Johnson, deputy commanding officer for 3-2 SBCT, from Fort Lewis, Wash. “And you have a very active municipal government working with the Army.”
Johnson believes these neighborhoods are heading in the right direction.
“What wins the war is normalcy, the work that’s being done by the Iraqi army, the municipal government, the civilians – by those people that want to take hold of their future – that’s where the war is won,” Johnson said. “And it’s not by us doing it. It’s by the Iraqis doing it.”
Johnson said leaders at the government center in downtown Baqubah are taking the recent Iraqi soccer team win of the Asian Cup to heart.
“The assistant to the governor for the provincial distribution system was the one who said it – ‘We can be just like the soccer team. The soccer team has Sunni, Shia, Kurdish – and there’s no sectarian issues. We need to be more like our soccer team. That’s the same thing we need to do as a nation.’”
Johnson said it’s this kind of thinking that will lead Baqubah and the rest of Iraq to a stable and secure future. With leaders like Wa’el, he believes it will happen.
“The last three weeks here in Baqubah have, without question, been the most rewarding three weeks of my career, because I’ve seen what good Iraq leadership looks like.”
(U.S. Army Story by Sgt. Armando Monroig , 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)