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NEWS | April 23, 2008

PRT, military leaders brief Wasit council on progress

By SFC Stacy Niles U.S. Army, 214th Fires Brigade

Wade Weems, the former Wasit PRT team leader, greets members of the Wasit Provincial Council. Weems and Col. Peter Baker, the 214th FB commander, briefed the Wasit Provincial Council on projects Coalition forces and the PRT have completed in the province. (Photo by James O’Gara)
Wade Weems, the former Wasit PRT team leader, greets members of the Wasit Provincial Council. Weems and Col. Peter Baker, the 214th FB commander, briefed the Wasit Provincial Council on projects Coalition forces and the PRT have completed in the province. (Photo by James O’Gara)

FOB DELTA (April 23, 2008) — The Wasit Provincial Reconstruction Team leader and 214th Fires Brigade commander briefed the Wasit Provincial Council last week on reconstruction efforts in the province.

More than $38 million dollars have been spent on those efforts in Wasit province since Jan. 1, 2007 by Coalition forces and the PRT.

“We have done a lot as a team, and it has been a team effort,” said Col. Peter Baker, the 214th FB commander, “but there is more to do so that essential services are available to all.

“We are working on developing processes and systems to put in place to allow for continued growth. This is an opportunity for us to share what has been put in place,” Baker said.

The brief provided an overview of money spent from 2003 - 2006 and a detailed look at projects completed from Jan. 1, 2007 until present. Prior to Jan 2007, Coalition forces spent more than $350 million on projects.

Wade Weems, the previous PRT team leader, described the PRT’s mission in Wasit, which is “to serve the Iraqi people and to create a strong, independent and free Iraq.”

Weems was replaced by Bob Kagler as PRT team leader April 17.

The Wasit PRT was established in July to coordinate and oversee reconstruction efforts in the province. The team works to assist provincial and local government with a range of engagement, training, jobs and small grant programs.

Weems told the council his team works with not only the provincial council, but with business leaders, non-governmental organizations, local councils, civil society organizations and other Iraqi leaders to plan projects to help the community.  

Hadi al-Yasiri, a provincial council member, expressed his appreciation for what the PRT has accomplished in the province, but said more needed to be done to reach citizens in rural and less-populated areas.

“(The PRT) presented this information because they care and they want to share their knowledge,” said Saad Sharhan Farhan al-Timimi, a provincial council member.

Weems stressed that the council and the PRT need to focus more on the future than on the past.

“The important thing that should come out of this discussion is not the specifics of a project in 2003, but where have we succeeded, where have we failed and how can we do better,” Weems said.

Baker stressed that as the security situation stabilizes, more projects can be completed.

Coalition forces in Wasit province consist of military forces from the U.S., El Salvador, Poland, Romania, Georgia, Lithuania and Kazakhstan.