Col. Ryan J. Kuhn, from Clarks, Neb., deputy commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, speaks with Richard Hawkins, from Washington, D.C., a representative from the U.S. State Department, before a meeting with leaders from the Mada'in Qada at the governmental center in Salman Pak, Iraq, March 12.
By Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – U.S. military and civilian leaders met with local Iraqi leaders to discuss upcoming projects and the needs of the Mada’in Qada at the government center in Salman Pak, March 12.
After the meeting, Col. Ryan J. Kuhn, from Clarks, Neb., deputy commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, toured a new health clinic in Salman Pak.
“This is truly your meeting,” said Kuhn to the Iraqi leaders. “We are interested in seeing what your visions for the qada are and want to support them.”
Kuhn, who met with the Iraqi director general of water earlier in the week, informed the leaders that $34 million worth of water projects had been approved to help the qada in the coming year.
“The reason these projects are coming is a testament to your leadership and the work you have done to secure this area,” Kuhn said. “This is a good example of leaders in Baghdad helping the people of the Mada’in Qada. If we can get more water flowing, we can truly help the farmers and citizens of this qada.”
Kuhn also explained that the ministry of water will be providing more fuel to run generators at the three main pump stations that distribute water to the qada and will provide repairs or replacements for the damaged pumps at each station.
Qada leaders outlined the future needs of each nahia and discussed possible projects to address these needs. Top concerns included providing more water to the citizens of the qada, addressing the qada’s electrical needs and aiding displaced citizens in moving back to the area.
Sheik Faddel, a local leader in Salman Pak, stressed security as a key component in the progress the qada was making.
“Elections will happen in October,” Faddel said. “We must bring our displaced citizens back to their homes so they may contribute. We are asking people to run as Iraqis, not sectarians. We do this to thank the people that sacrificed their lives for Salman Pak. To honor them and their sacrifice, we must succeed. We must continue to move forward.”
Leaders brought up recruiting more doctors to come to the area, the restoration of 156 historical sites, building an amusement park in Salman Pak and using advertising to attract more tourists to help Mada’in Qada resume its place as one of Iraq’s most popular destinations.
Kuhn agreed that 3rd BCT would continue to support the qada’s continued growth.
A local sheik thanked Kuhn for 3rd BCT’s support.
“Right now all of our nahias are secure and safe, including Salman Pak,” the sheik said. “People are moving freely ... You will always be welcome here. One day we will all meet in Salman Pak as brothers.”
The 3rd BCT, from Fort Benning, Ga., 3rd Infantry Division, has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.