Matham, radio station operator for FM 107.1, “Voice of the Mada’in,” and Ali Asaad, community communications officer, discuss radio programs April 9 at the station in al Wahida, Iraq. (Photo by Sgt. Natalie Rostek)
FOB Hammer, Iraq
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., commander of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and Richard Hawkins, 3rd HBCT’s embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team leader, talked to residents of the Mada’in Qada during a live radio show on FM 107.1, “Voice of the Mada’in,” April 8 in al Wahida.
“While we are here to talk about governance and economic growth, I want to remind our listeners that the progress we have seen was possible because of the increased security,” said Grigsby, a native of Prince George’s County, Md. “It was security that opened the window for the dramatic progress in the Mada’in Qada.”
Since Soldiers of the 3rd HBCT deployed to the qada in March 2007, security has improved with significant decreases in violent crime and attacks against Coalition forces.
Grigsby spoke about criminal activity in the qada spiking over the past few weeks. The people of the Mada’in do not want to return to the times when more than 50 citizens on average were murdered each month, he said. The past three months have witnessed an average of 6 murders.
“People do not want to go backwards to having no clean water, no water for agriculture and no goods available in the markets,” he said.
Grigsby explained there is nothing wrong with people exercising their right of free speech without violence. A legitimate government does not fear open expression, he said.
“I have come to greatly admire the courage and commitment of the leaders in the Mada’in Qada,” Grigsby told listeners. “I have complete faith in their ability to work through the problems to find practical solutions.”
When Grigsby was finished speaking, Hawkins, from Washington, D.C., talked about security and projects in the qada.
“Our common objective, one that we share with the Government of Iraq, is to rebuild the qada and to open new opportunities for prosperity and happiness for all its citizens,” he said. “We Americans and members of the Coalition cannot command that effort and we are pleased that many dedicated Iraqis are stepping forward to lead the rebuilding process. Brave Iraqi Security Forces and Sons of Iraq have sacrificed to ensure security.”
After Grigsby and Hawkins spoke, citizens of the qada had the chance to call to the radio show and ask the leaders questions.
Maj. Nathan Haas, from The Dalles, Ore., the 3rd HBCT information officer, said the radio station is a quick way to get information out and counter misinformation.
In Iraqi culture, word-of-mouth is one of the most popular ways to spread information, Haas said. Although not everyone in the qada owns a radio, the station can have great influence.
“We think there is potential to increase the number of listeners,” Haas said. “We are planning on distributing radios with rechargeable batteries for citizens to listen to when the power is out. We are also planning to give radios to checkpoints to give them something to listen to when they are out there.”
The 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., has been deployed in support of Operation Iraq Freedom since March 2007.