NEWS | April 15, 2008

Leaders meet at development conference

By None , 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

FOB HAMMER, Iraq (April 15, 2008) – Key Iraqi governmental officials from Baghdad met with tribal and civic leaders of the Mada’in Qada during the Narhwan Development Conference held at a health clinic there, April 12.

An assistant to the governor of Baghdad; the director general of agriculture; the Mada’in Qada director of education; the director general of rural planning; and the mayor of the Mada’in Qada talked with local leaders about improving essential services in the area.

“A lot of coordination went into planning this meeting by the Narhwan council,” said Capt. Josh Beard, from Opelika, Ala., the civil military operations officer for 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery. “They set this opportunity up and both groups acted on it. The representatives sent up a list of concerns to the proper officials ahead of time, so they could be prepared to discuss the issues.”

Beard explained that the conference was crucial for Narhwan residents.

“The lack of essential services has caused a lot of frustration here,” he said. “The officials from Baghdad did a good job of listening and explaining what is happening on their side. Being able to discuss things face to face cleared up a lot of issues.”

Beard said the meeting allowed officials to see the progress Narhwan has made in the last year.

“This was a good opportunity for the people of Narhwan to show the people from Baghdad where the money the government of Iraq has provided has gone,” he said. “The officials could actually see the projects that have improved the area. Of course, there are still areas that need improvement, but Narhwan has come a long way from where it was a year ago.”

The area’s stability is a key reason that Maj. James Carlisle, from West Palm Beach, Fla., the civil affairs officer for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, believes the GoI will invest more in the region.

“Select areas of Baghdad are seeing an increase in violence,” he said. “The leadership in Narhwan has kept violence away from this area. The provincial level leaders got to see that today. I believe they know they can afford to invest more in the area to reinforce the success of the area.”

Beard agrees with Carlisle’s assessment and believes that the area’s security will help lead to more meetings between the two groups.

“This meeting was an enormous step in the right direction,” he said. “It is great that officials were willing to come out here today. I think that them being able to see the security situation will make them more willing to continue dialogue in the future and continue to come back.”

The 1-10 FA is assigned to the 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.