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Leaders select Rashid reconstruction projects

By Maj. Dave Olson , 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.

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Yaqoub Yosif Al Bakhaty, Rashid District Council chairman, inspects the Rashid Electrical Sub-Station May 13.(U.S. Army photo by Capt. David Beskow)
Yaqoub Yosif Al Bakhaty, Rashid District Council chairman, inspects the Rashid Electrical Sub-Station May 13.(U.S. Army photo by Capt. David Beskow)

FOB FALCON, Iraq (May 20, 2008) – Iraqi civil leaders met, May 13, with the Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, to select and prioritize reconstruction projects for the Rashid District in southern Baghdad for the benefit of the Iraqi citizens.

Leaders of the Rashid District Council, Doura and Rashid Beladiyas, and representatives of the Ministry of Education met at the Rashid Project Prioritization Meeting at Forward Operating Base Falcon in Baghdad to discuss, select and prioritize the civil and construction projects the Iraqi leadership want MND-B assistance with during the upcoming year.

“The intent of the meeting was to receive Iraqi feedback on prioritizing projects nominated by our predecessors, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div., so we could better synchronize coalition-sponsored projects to fill funding gaps in their government’s master plan,” said Maj. Tom Clark, the 1st BCT chief of the Infrastructure Coordination Element and the operations officer for the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st BCT.

Officers from the 1st “Raider” Brigade presented a briefing on the future method of improving essential services in Rashid to the Iraqi civil leaders. This method will help in developing a master plan for Rashid synchronized with government of Iraq’s future projects.

The Raider Brigade presented information to the Iraqi leaders about how the Iraqi Commander’s Emergency Response Program worked, explained Clark.

I-CERP is the procedure the Iraqi government uses to spend its oil revenues to complement a similar successful U.S. program known as CERP, he said.

The Iraqi leaders brought a list of projects they wanted to nominate to the meeting, he said. “The Iraqis joined together to express their wishes in solidarity on common programs,” said Tom Lynch, a native of Fairfax, Va., and the Provincial Reconstruction Team leader, who works closely with 1st BCT and served in the U.S. Foreign Service for 33 years, which includes 18 months in Afghanistan.

The Iraqi leaders discussed and prioritized 44 projects during the meeting, said Clark.

During the conference, the leaders also toured the central Baghdad electrical sub-station here to monitor progress on the facility.

The central Baghdad electrical sub-station is a project built with Iraqi money, by Iraqi labor, using Iraqi and foreign experts, said Clark, who hails from Copperas Cove, Texas.

The sub-station will improve efficiency and reliability of the electrical distribution, not only to the people of Rashid, but to all of Baghdad, he said.

The sub-station is scheduled to open in June.