Thursday, March 20, 2008

MNF-I Representatives Visit Local Leaders

Hayder Razak, director of the Jisr Diyala nahia, speaks during a meeting, March 19, at Combat Outpost Carver, Iraq. Col. Ryan Kuhn, from Clarks, Neb., listens.

By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – In a meeting at Combat Outpost Carver on March 19, representatives from Multi-National Forces – Iraq discussed problems and solutions in Jisr Diyala, Salman Pak and the surrounding areas.

U.S. Ambassador Larry Napper; Dennis DeTray, vice president for special initiatives, Center for Global Development; Patrick Fine, U.S. Agency for International Development; and Col. H.R. McMaster, adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, commander of MNF-I, were present at the meeting along with leaders of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

After formal introductions, Salam Bedam, Jisr Diyala council chairman, expressed his concerns about education and prioritizing projects.

He said suggested a computer training course for elementary-level students.

“We are planting the seeds of education at this level,” Bedam said. “Also, citizens do not know enough English. We need to start teaching aggressive courses of English in elementary schools.”

On projects, Bedam was pleased with the momentum of work. In the past, security issues prevented progress.

“Since the Hammer Brigade (3rd BCT) has come into the Mada’in, they have helped improve security” said Hayder Razak, director of the Jisr Diyala nahia. “Now we are able to come to meetings like this safely.”

Now that security has improved considerably, Bedam said projects to improve water pumps and treatment facilities, electricity output, sewage disposal and oil distribution are underway.

After Bedam spoke, Razak stressed his interest in receiving assistance from the government of Iraq on agricultural issues in Jisr Diyala and nearby communities.

Since the Mada’in Qada is mainly a farming community, Razak expressed a need for water, specifically the restoration of the Jisr Diyala water pump station that could supply water to much of the qada.

Supplying water to farms would improve the health of livestock, increasing production of meat and milk. An increase in farm products also creates more jobs in processing factories, he said.

Sheik Fadil, acting Salman Pak council chairman and local Sons of Iraq leader, agreed with Razak. He said assistance from the GoI could benefit the citizens of Salman Pak with water for farms and fisheries.

The MNF-I representatives took all concerns and suggestions of the Jisr Diyala and Salman Pak leaders and assured them they will be presented to Petraeus.

Bedan, Fadil and Razak are all pleased with the progress of security, governance and the economy in Salman Pak and Jisr Diyala. They said they are appreciative of the 3rd BCT’s support.

“They always start and finish projects in a short time,” Bedan said. “This way we can use more workers for more projects. These workers get paid and that puts money in the economy.”

The 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

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