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

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