Check out the picture, hearts and minds.... and we are winning....
RELEASE NUMBER: 040220-01
DATE POSTED: FEBRUARY 20, 2004
Civil affairs troops celebrate completion of three major projects in Baghdad
By Sgt. Mark S. Rickert
372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGHDAD, Iraq (USASOC News Service, Feb. 20, 2004) â€” In the western region of the Abu Ghraib district here, the community has plenty to celebrate. In less than two months, their water was safer to drink, the condition of the mosque is better and residents now have a medical clinic close at hand.
The 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Utica, N.Y., gathered with the residents of a small community within the Abu Ghraib neighborhood to celebrate the completion of a medical clinic, the restoration of a mosque and a new water system during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 24.
Now that the Abala Medical Clinic is open to the public, it will provide primary medical treatment for the area. Until now, the people there traveled 10 miles for the nearest hospitalâ€”a long distance for a people with little transportation, said Sgt. Amy Fish, a member of the direct support team for the 414th.
â€śWeâ€™re proud to open the medical clinic here because it is providing medical service for an under-serviced population,â€ť said Col. John Huntley, commander of the 414th.
While contractors started rebuilding the clinic, the civil affairs team also acquired funds to repair the mosque next door. According to Staff Sgt. Louis Poliselli, leader of the 414th direct support team, backing this second project supported the coalition forcesâ€™ overall goal of winning the hearts and minds of the people.
â€śThis shows that weâ€™re working with religious leaders,â€ť said Poliselli. â€śIt doesnâ€™t matter if they are Christian or Muslim, we want to help everybody out.â€ť
â€śThey see that weâ€™re willing to do anything we can to help rebuild the country,â€ť said Fish. â€śThis means a lot to the people here.â€ť
As the funds for the two projects came in, the civil affairs team went a step further and obtained enough money to reroute the communityâ€™s drinking water. According to Fish, the people in the area drew from wells with a high concentration of sulfur. This made the drinking water unsafe to consume.
â€śNow weâ€™ve tapped into a mainline that is hooked to a purification system,â€ť said Fish. â€śFrom the mainline, we ran drinking-water pipes to the schools in this area, as well as the medical center and the mosque.â€ť
Now, as the residents of the community celebrate this step toward better living conditions, the civil affairs Soldiers also celebrate the progress theyâ€™ve made. As Huntley said, itâ€™s only a small step toward a promising future for Iraq.
â€śWe are in the business of pulling together infrastructure,â€ť said Huntley. â€śItâ€™s going to help the county carry on by itself after we leave. So weâ€™re very interested in setting the stage for success. Itâ€™s just a start, but weâ€™re going to use this as a springboard to continue progress here.â€ť