Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good News from Iraq

Refurbished school opens in Salman Pak
By Maj. Joe Sowers, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – The only secondary school for girls in the Salman Pak area opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 24.

Leaders of the Salman Pak Council, the Iraqi Army, the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, gathered in Salman Pak for the ceremony, which marked the completion of a $200,000 project initiated Feb. 28.

Members of the Salman Pak Council brought the decrepit school to the attention of 1-15th Inf. Regt. leadership in January. The school was in disrepair and local leaders’ desire to improve educational facilities matched the goals of the battalion leadership.

“We were looking for a big school to refurbish to make an impact,” said Capt. Matt Givens, from Columbus, Ga., the civil-military operations officer for 1-15th Inf. Regt. “It was the only female secondary school in the area. Before the refurbishment, the school was pretty much falling down. It had no electricity and students couldn’t use the restrooms.”

Givens said the project completely overhauled the building. Iraqi contractors repaired structural damage, erected a security wall, rewired electrical outlets, replastered the outside and repainted the inside.

Two of the most significant improvements were connecting the restrooms to a septic tank and the construction of a concrete courtyard.

“Unpaved courtyards get quite muddy when it rains,” said Givens, who has facilitated 13 different school refurbishment projects during his unit’s 14-month deployment. “School administrators commonly ask for concrete courtyards for assemblies and recreation.”

Givens said these projects make a difference in the community.

“People view it as you’re helping take care of their children and it helps to build trust within the community,” he said. “They are excited when they see you helping their children.”

The 1-15th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga. and has been deployed to Iraq since March 2007. The 2-6th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division from Baumholder, Germany, and will soon replace the 3rd HBCT in the Mada’in Qada.
Posted by David Spunt on 04/29 at 09:31 PM

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ryan's 'Thank You' on

i want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for the packages and letters that you have been sending. as luck would have tour has been shortened and i will be going home in about a week!!! it is just more proof that things here are starting to go in the right directions. the changes in this country are not going to happen over night. and it will take years before this country will be able to stand on it's feet. but the people of our country sould be proud that that the guys in the armed forces are willing to fight and die for this country. it is an honor. it is what we do...and we do it well.

thank you all who took time to send me a birthday card on my 30th birthday. i sat here and thought about what i had done in my 30 years of life. i helped to liberate 2 countries from opression. that's pretty damn good. some of my non military friends have finished college, and bought houses....have great careers. i have had to put all that on i could do the military. no degree, no civilian career....but i saved millions of people from genocide. i wouldn't change it for the world.

thank you for all of your support!

until next time.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Afghan school gets new library and science lab for opening day

2008-03-28classroom.jpgBAGRAM AIRBASE, Afghanistan – The first day of school at Jan Qadam Elementary School, Parwan Province, was alive with the throngs of excited children, dignitaries, government officials and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan soldiers who dedicated a new school library and science lab, March 24.
Just after 9 a.m. on Monday, the Head of the District Development Council welcomed everyone to the event, noting the importance of the relationship between the school and all those who helped make it a great place to learn. He specifically thanked the children of Calvert City Elementary School, Calvert City, Ky., for their partnership with the Jan Qadam School.
“The partnership between the schools is a community-based initiative between the people and students of Calvert City Elementary School and the Jan Qadam School and community,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Watson, a member of CJSOTF-Afghanistan.
After the speeches and a prayer, the new school library was dedicated to Afghan Gen. Baba Jan, a retired Afghan commander. Jan donated the land to build the school on and the library is filled with books donated by USAID.2008-03-28present.jpg
The distinguished guests and visitors toured the school and visited the new science lab. It is the only science lab in the Bagram School District, which has 32 schools, including seven high schools.
“School is the factory that produces positive individuals for society,” said Adul the Head of the District Development Council, Adul Waquel.
Jan Qadam hosts more than 1,200 students who are taught in two shifts.
Village elders passed out backpacks to more than 500 students and Calvert Elementary children donated notebooks, pens, pencils, glue and rulers to their Afghan counterparts.
The partnership with Calvert Elementary is only just beginning. In addition to the supplies provided, students from a second grade class there wrote letters to the students at the Jan Qadam School. Calvert students were mostly interested in what Afghan children do at home, during their free time.
“My name is Erin, I’m from Calvert, Kentucky,” one of the letters starts out. “I can’t wait to learn about your culture.”
Most of the Calvert students seemed interested in the differences between Afghan children and American children with most listing their favorite sports and after-school activities.
“It bridges cultures and helps educate future generations about other people who share our world,” said Watson. 2008-03-28speaker.jpg
“We will pass the translated letters out to the Afghan children and send their replies back to the states,” said a Coalition commander. “Some time in the next few months students from Calvert city will travel to Ft. Campbell, Ky., to have a video teleconference with some of the Afghan students.”
“It was a great day for the people of Jan Qadam, the Ministry of Education, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and Coalition forces,” said Watson. “It reinforces our ties and commitment to the community and people of Afghanistan and helps foster an enduring relationship.”
(This article written by the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan Public Affairs Office)
Written by Bagram Media Center Friday, 28 March 2008