Capt. John Horning, from Houston, Texas, commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, talks to local citizens standing in line at the Iraqi Conservation Corps Force sign-up Dec. 27 in Al Huda, Iraq. (Photo by Sgt. Natalie Rostek)
Staff Sgt. Scott Coe, Ransomville, N.Y., Company C, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, uses a handheld metal detector to check a local citizen during an Iraqi Conservation Corps Force sign-up Dec. 27 in Al Huda, Iraq. (Photo by Sgt. Natalie Rostek)
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq - Soldiers and leaders of Company C, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, held an Iraqi Conservation Corps sign-up Dec. 27 for citizens of Al Huda.
According to Capt. John Horning, from Houston, Texas, commander of Company C, the members of the ICC conduct one of three services in their communities within the Nahia. These services are sanitation, construction, and security.
"A program like this takes the Concerned Local Citizens Program to the next step," Horning said. "Obviously security is the first concern but in an area like Al Huda, where security is maintained, this is the right next step."
Horning said local leaders came to him with concerns about the citizens in their villages needing jobs. He advertised the program sign-up by visiting local leaders in the company's area of operation.
"Their sheiks recommend and sponsor them," he explained. "Then they are entered into the HIIDES system and run through the police data base."
The HIIDES, or Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment System, is used by law enforcement agencies as a quick reference system to help in the identification and apprehension of criminals. The 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team has been using the system to quickly identify and catalogue persons of interest during its continuing operations in the Mada'in Qada. In this case, to screen all applicants and check them against a database the brigade maintains.
Horning said members applying for the sanitation "platoon" do not need any experience, however, those who are applying for construction jobs are required to have some kind of trade skill correlated with the job at hand.
"This program will hopefully help return them to normalcy and that's what they need," Horning said.
Funding for the ICC comes from the 3rd HBCT, Horning said.
Local citizens who came to the sign-up were excited about the job opportunities Company C was providing.
"I have 13 kids who are all very young," Yahia Latef, said. "I am on my own to make money for my family. In this area there are a lot of people without jobs. This is a great thing the Coalition Forces are doing for the people here. I hope everyone gets a job. I hope the project is here for a long time."
During a meeting with village leaders before the sign-up began, Horning explained his hope for the project and the good it will do for the community.
"We would much rather be doing a project like this than having to go out and kill the bad guys in your community," he told the leaders.
Horning has high expectations and said he can see two positive outcomes occurring because of the project's success.
"This project is concrete in the sense that we are putting dollars into the economy and people are working," he said. "Also, we are helping people see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are helping them see hope. They see that things are going to get better."
Company C, 1-15 Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March, 2007.