Some Good News From Iraq

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Since the MSM is intent on publishing only the bad news from that country I will try to spread a bit of the good news today. First there is the story about soldiers delivering school supplies to Iraqi schools.

Soldiers from Task Force 3-8 Cavalry delivered boxes filled with school supplies, toys and food to the Al A?ila Primary School, in the Salhiya neighborhood of the Karkh District here on Dec. 8. Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, the ?Bushmasters,? from Kent, Wash., are primarily responsible for the security within the International Zone, according to Capt. Jonathan Beddall, from Davenport, Wash., Company B commander, 1-161 INF.

Beddall?s nephew, Matthew Beddall, a 17-year-old high school senior from Mount Laurel, N.J., organized the donation of school supplies, food and cash to pay for the shipping as part of an Eagle Scout project.

For three months they collected items based on a list of suggested items provided to them. Community donations resulted in 36 boxes being sent here. Another 36 boxes were sent to a unit in southern Iraq.

?We are thankful for the families that sent this gift for the Iraqi kids because they make the kids happy,? said Salhia Neighborhood Council Chairman Dhia Hussain Ali Mobarak.

The 1,200 boys and girls in grades one through six moved into the school?s auditorium, with their hands on the shoulders of the kid in front of them. The younger kids filed in first, followed by the older ones, the excitement in their voices increasing as they made their way to the distribution point. Their exit route took them past a row of Soldiers passing out large amounts of candy.

The kids returned to their classrooms, many of them thanking the Soldiers in English as they clutched plastic bags filled with candy and a variety of school supplies and toys.

?We?re helping out, giving them a chance to have something that they wouldn?t normally have,? said Spc. Charles Newbill, from B Co., 1-161 INF, a Spokane, Wash. resident.

A camera crew from CBS filmed the event for broadcast. At a time when the media is accused of focusing on the negative aspects of the Iraq experience, Beddall welcomed the television coverage and the opportunity to show the good things being done.

?If we get the media, who?s filming, talking to kids, talking to us, when they come out here and show that we?re not just killing people, that we?re actually trying to help a little bit, that?s a big thing,? Beddall said.

Then there is the story of our military setting up a jobs corps in Tikrit

TIKRIT, Iraq- In its second month, the Tikrit Job Corp is both helping to keep Tikrit clean and helping prevent many unemployed former soldiers from supporting the insurgents. More than 300 people are employed clearing the streets and vacant lots of Tikrit and neighboring towns of debris and trash. One local worker said ?everyone wants to be proud of their home. I do also and will do whatever I can to help?.

Chronic un-employment in Tikrit of numerous discharged, former Iraqi military soldiers and officers, posed a significant security problem. Task Force 1-18 determined that jobless former soldiers were very likely to support or join the insurgency. Clearly this posed a more dangerous threat given their training on weapons and explosives. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Sinclair, the Task Force 1-18 commander challenged his staff to find a solution.

The Vanguard Civil Military Operation team decided to create a Job Corp in Tikrit. The answer was inspired by the public works projects of the 1930?s depression in the United States. Using the Commander?s Emergency Relief Program, Task Force 1-18 hired a local contractor to implement the project. The plan called for more than 400 former military to be guaranteed a steady job for more than six months.

Or how about the 1400 brand new Iraqi Policemen who completed training recently

The Iraqi Police Service graduated 1,423 officers from the Basic Police Training Course at the Jordan International Police Training Center in Amman, Jordan, Dec. 16, as the Iraqi government continues the police force training effort in the country.

The graduation marked the completion of the eight-week training course recruits with no experience negotiate before reporting for duty. Prior-service officers attend a three week ?transition integration program? course of instruction.

IPS basic training runs recruits through instruction in the fundamentals of policing skills, techniques and ideals of law enforcement in a free society preparing recruits for law enforcement operations throughout the country.

All graduates will deploy immediately for duty at stations throughout Iraq.

Here’s another story about the just completed highway

Iraq?s first national highway running from its northern borders to the Persian Gulf in the south was completed Dec. 5 with the driving of a golden spike.

Main Supply Route Tampa, also called Highway or Expressway One, was completed by a combined effort of coalition and Iraqi forces led by the 115th Engineer Group of the Utah National Guard.

The golden spike ceremony was patterned after one in Utah 135 years ago when the world?s first transcontinental railroad was joined in Promontory Point. The ceremonial driving of a golden spike completed the final link of the railroad on May 10, 1869, joining the U.S. Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

The golden spike ceremony for the Iraqi highway was performed by representatives of both Iraq and the coalition. Maj. Gen. Walter Natynczyk, deputy commander of the Multi-National Corps?Iraq, hammered the railroad spike into the center of the pavement with a representative of Iraq?s Ministry of Housing and Construction.

?This is a significant milestone in Iraqi and Coalition cooperation which literally and figuratively paves the way for all Iraqis,? Natynzcyk said.

Like the historical golden spike at Promontory Point, officials said the golden spike in the completely paved MSR Tampa represents the joining of cultures and advances in transportation.

The hammering of the spike additionally honored the home state of the lead coalition engineers, said Col. Ed Willis, commander, 115th Engineer Group. The 115th engineers were tasked with completion of the highway in March 2004.

?It?s also a demonstration of the cooperation between the coalition forces and the Iraqi people,? Willis announced to Iraqi, U.S., Italian, and various forces present for the event.

?The completion of this paving mission forges a vital link in the improvement of Iraq?s national infrastructure,? Natynczyk said ?This effort [paving of MSR Tampa] started about 30 years ago, but it was delayed due to years of conflict and an oppressive regime.?

Prior to the paving project, 143 kilometers of the 1,020-kilometer road were unpaved. The U.S. Army adopted the project in cooperation with Iraq in November 2003. Now, at least one lane of asphalt covers the center of Iraq from the northern borders of Turkey and Syria to the southern border of the Persian Gulf.

The road construction had never been completed due to difficulties such as the war with Iran, the Gulf War, and issues Saddam had with people of the area, said the Iraqi ministry representative.

?It was a very difficult situation. No asphalt plant worked, no machinery. But we had courage to finish? with support of Coalition Forces,? he said.

Delivery of heaters to a local school

Task Force Danger civil affairs Soldiers delivered new kerosene heaters to the Hazaban Primary School students and staff on December 6.

Education is important to the people of Iraq. In order to create a suitable learning environment, educational facilities must meet the basic requirements for the comfort of its students.

During a visit last week to the Hazaban Primary School in Sulaymaniyah, a civil affairs team identified the need for kerosene heaters for the school, which does not have access to electricity.

The team procured and delivered the heaters to the students and staff. The team will continue to submit project recommendations to repair numerous broken windows and missing doors in the classrooms.

And finally this news about some new Iraqi soldiers

Marching in a row of 12 companies before various dignitaries and military officials, the Iraqi Army?s 6th Brigade makes a pass and review on Taji?s parade field commemorating their graduation from basic training.

After four months of mentally and physically challenging activity, the soldiers added their names to the list of those who wished to serve their country and can now call themselves soldiers in the Iraqi Army.

?I?m very glad to be finished with my training and I wish my family could?ve been here to watch me march across the field,? said 1st Lt. Ali Abdul Kareem, a platoon commander with the 6th Brigade. ?My heart is filled with joy.?

Along with the Iraq?s Army chief of staff Gen. Babekir Zebari and Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq?s Commanding General Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the 6th Brigade?s instructors and training advisers stood watching their procession.

?I was very proud to see them graduate after everything they went through and glad to be one of the instructors who went along with them every step of the way,? said Sgt. 1st Class Furat Salih, one of the company instructors. ?Their training was very tough and everyone was eager to complete it. They?re all brave men and every one of them is ready to defend their country.?

During their boot camp, recruits went through urban combat, marksmanship, first aid, vehicle/personnel searching and other various types of military instruction to ready themselves for anything thrown their way.

?It was very difficult at times, but I always tried to do the best I could,? said Kareem. ?Now I can help rid my country of terrorists. My troops and I all stand ready for that task.?

The Iraqi soldiers also praised their American counterparts for their continuous involvement during their training.

?Our instructors were just like our friends and brothers,? said Kareem. ?They pushed us and that made us want to be better soldiers. They worked with us even during their time off. We?re one family, from commander down to private.?

It may have been a long and difficult road, but none of the Iraqi soldiers regretted their choice to be one of the first groups to train and fight against those who work for the instability of their government.

?I?m proud of everything I accomplished and my family is too,? said Staff Sgt. Ali Hassan. ?I feel like I?m taller now and can accomplish anything.?

Before the ceremony ended, their division commander Brig. Gen. Baha Hussein left them with these words:

?Soldiers of the Iraqi Army, victory stands upon you. I ask each and every one of you to protect Iraq and its people until your last breath. You are the ones who?ll bring peace to this country.?

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