By Sgt. Whitney Houston
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Reconstruction projects throughout the region of Tarmiyah, located northwest of Baghdad, are providing many opportunities for residents to move forward and begin living better lives.
Due to conflicts that have littered the region over the years, the citizens of Tarmiyah are lacking many essential services such as schools, potable water, sewers and banks. However, reconstruction projects are in progress to help restore infrastructure.
“The bottom line is that increased capacity is what every Iraqi needs right now,” said 1st Lt. Eric Peterson, native of Littleton, Colo., and platoon leader assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment “Golden Dragons,” 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad. “Their infrastructure has decayed a little bit because of conflict over the years, so we’re trying to counteract those effects by really getting into these reconstruction projects as heavy and as hard as we can to give them this capacity.”
A major focus has been placed on education buildings first as school will begin within the first weeks of September.
“We have 17 school projects going on right now,” Peterson said. So we’re hustling right now to finish up the school projects, then we’ll get more involved with services like water, electricity and sewage.”
Funding for the reconstruction effort is provided through the Iraqi Commanders Emergency Relief Program. Using this program allows the local government to get money for projects quickly and efficiently. It also allows them to help in the planning process, hire local contractors and mitigate corruption. Coalition forces gather weekly with local government officials to ensure everyone is on the same sheet of music and ensure the project is going smoothly, Peterson explained.
Though projects are nearing completion, security is still a key issue on residents’ minds. The Iraqi police are instrumental in ensuring the security of the project sites and residents.
“The security situation is getting better in Tarmiyah,” said Mohammad Jassim Al Mashadani, Tarmiyah Qada leader. “We have meetings often with the police to ensure that security constantly improves, because security is directly correlated with the project’s success.”
As good as security is getting, it is still not perfect. Recent suicide vest improvised explosive device attacks killed one U.S. Soldier, local residents and wounded a prominent Sons of Iraq (Abna al-Iraq ) leader, who lost his right leg from the blast but managed to get away with his life, Peterson explained.
Despite these attacks, spirits are high due to the benefits of reconstruction.
“The people are very happy about the projects,” said Jassim. “This year, we’ve had a lot of projects which have helped us very much. Coalition forces and the (government of Iraq) have enabled us to give our people jobs, and a decrease in terrorism shows the people are backing the projects. God willing, our city will continue to improve.”