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by Sgt. Mark Miranda
1st Armored Division

COB ADDER, Iraq (June 9, 2009) – Military operations in Iraq formally ended for Romanian forces June 4, as one of America’s coalition allies prepared to ship out some of its remaining troops with an end-of-mission ceremony held by Romania’s 26th Infantry “Red Scorpions” Battalion.

The Romanian flag was lowered over the 26th’s compound here, affectionately known as “Camp Dracula,” in a ceremony following a memorial for the Romanian military personnel who died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ceremony was held just an hour before the U.S. Army 1st Armored Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team conducted a relief-in-place, transfer-of-authority ceremony with the outgoing 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division.

Col. Gabriel Toma, commander of the Romanian army’s 26th Infantry Battalion, conducts an inspection of troops with Romanian President Traian Basescu during an end-of-mission ceremony June 4 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq.

Col. Gabriel Toma, commander of the Romanian army’s 26th Infantry Battalion, conducts an inspection of troops with Romanian President Traian Basescu during an end-of-mission ceremony June 4 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq.

Romanian President Traian Basescu, who is the supreme commander of Romanian armed forces during wartime, was on hand.

Romanian Lt. Col. Gabriel Toma, commander of the 26th Infantry Battalion, received the U.S. Bronze Star Medal from Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of Multinational Corps Iraq.

“It’s hard to say farewell to a trusted partner,” Jacoby said. “Few have been as committed to freedom of the Iraqi people as the Romanians, and I extend my thanks, as it’s been an honor to serve with them here in Iraq.”

Jacoby praised the Romanians as a dedicated and capable force, and expressed condolences for their lost soldiers.

Since August 2003, Romania has deployed more than 5,200 troops to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Assigned to two different multinational divisions, Romanian forces have provided intelligence support to Multinational Division South by conducting reconnaissance and surveillance missions and operating unmanned aerial vehicle platforms. Romanian forces also provided base security, supply-route security and quick-reaction forces in Basra, and conducted training and monitoring of Iraqi army units, culminating with the May 23 graduation of Iraqi commandos on Camp Ur.

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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Sunday, June 7, 2009, Lebanon held their elections and the March 14th ticket gained seats in the Parliament for which they are in the majority. The Daily Star has two articles (more actually, but I am going to post one and discuss the other).

How many people knew there was even an election? Oh, I forgot. It’s the economy stupid. NOT. This is very important. We are still trying to find the guilty parties behind the assassination of former PM Hariri, Hizbullah is still refusing to give up their war guns, Syria is still messing with Lebanon’s affairs, and it is a struggle between those who desire to get on with their freedom and those who desire to take it from them. So this is a very important election.

Let me first explain how the parliament is set up so you will understand the election.

There are 128 seats in Parliament which are divided evenly between Christians and Muslims. One has to be 25 years old to run for office. They are elected to serve a term of four years. For the Muslims, 27 seats go to Sunnis, 27 seats go to Shiites, 8 go to Druze, and 2 go to Alawites. 34 go to the Maronites, 14 to the Greek Orthodox, eight to the Greek Catholics, five to the Armenian Orthodox, one to the Armenian Catholics, one to Evangelicals and one to minority sects. The speaker of the house is always a Shiite.

While we have an electoral college, they have 26 electoral districts. Voter eligibility for this election was 21 years old. However service members were not allowed to participate in the election. If that happened here, I’d be having a protest from now until the day I died, but I do not know the reasoning behind this. Could it be that Hizbullah has infiltrated the military? I don’t know.

These are the conditions for this election. There were 587 candidates, voting started at 7 am and lasted until 7 pm, there were 5,200 voting stations, and after voting they had to dip their finger in ink to prove they voted and so they could not vote again (we should do this!).

Now we know some of the basics, let’s discuss what happened.

Hat tip: This information came from The Daily Star: Key facts about Lebanon’s 2009 elections.

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Major challenges await newly elected parliament.
Monday, June 08, 2009

Listen to the Article.

BEIRUT: Lebanese headed to the polls Sunday in crucial parliamentary elections that will determine the country’s future for the next four years. Here are some of the challenges facing the 2009 Parliament:

*HIZBULLAH’S WEAPONS
The role of Hizbullah’s resistance army is a major bone of contention. March 14 leaders call for a state monopoly on arms, a demand echoed by UN Security Council resolutions. But Hizbullah has sworn to keep the weapons it says are vital to defend Lebanon from Israel.

* RELATIONS WITH SYRIA
Pulling Lebanon from Syria’s orbit has been at the heart of March 14’s agenda since the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, while many March 8 leaders maintain very close ties to Damascus.

Syria still faces calls from March 14 and the United Nations to demarcate its border with Lebanon. March 14 leaders also accuse Syria of arming Palestinian groups based in Lebanon.

* HARIRI TRIBUNAL

Establishing an international tribunal to try suspects in Hariri’s killing was a key goal of anti-Syrian politicians, who blamed Damascus for the killing. The issue aggravated political conflict with Syrias allies in Lebanon.

Plans for the court were never approved by the Lebanese parliament or president. The Security Council voted in May 2007 to set up the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and it began work in March at The Hague. Hizbullah again questioned the neutrality of an international inquiry into the assassination after the tribunal ordered the release of four pro-Syrian generals held without charge since 2005. – Reuters

Source: The Daily Star: Major challenges await newly elected parliament.
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With Europe turning to the right and Lebanon turning to the common sense (right), why are we now going to go down the paths these countries have found by trial and error they failed? Just asking.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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MNC-I

KIRKUK, Iraq (June 6, 2008) — A teenage boy was seen throwing a grenade at a combined patrol of Iraqi police and U.S. Soldiers, June 4, in the town of Hawijah, approximately 30 kilometers west of Kirkuk City in northern Iraq. The grenade failed to detonate, and the suspect fled into the mix of local shops, but the incident is part of a growing trend of children carrying out attacks on Iraqi security and U.S. forces in the province.

Iraqi police inspect the wreckage of the police vehicle destroyed by the suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device driven by a teenage boy in Kirkuk City, May 12.

Iraqi police inspect the wreckage of the police vehicle destroyed by the suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device driven by a teenage boy in Kirkuk City, May 12.

Maj. Warren Sponsler, the operations officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based near Hawijah, says he believes teenagers are being recruited by insurgents to commit the attacks.

Days earlier, a 15-year-old boy was apprehended, after throwing a grenade at a combined team of Iraqi police and U.S. Soldiers on patrol in Hawijah. The grenade detonated against one U.S. vehicle. No one was injured and minor damage to one vehicle was reported.

The same unit reported that a boy between the ages of 14 to 16 threw a grenade at a combined convoy of Hawijah IPs and Soldiers from 1-8 Cavalry, May 26. No one was injured nor was there any damage reported in the attack.

In Kirkuk City, a boy – possibly as young as 14 – was the driver of a vehicle used in a suicide car bombing that killed five Iraqi policemen, wounded five others and also wounded 11 civilian bystanders, according to Kirkuk police, May 12.

Also in Kirkuk City, a 19-year-old would-be suicide bomber was detained by Iraqi police while attempting to detonate a suicide vest in a Shia Mosque, May 1. According to Iraqi police, he confessed to have been fighting insurgents in Iraq three years by the time of his arrest.

“To endanger children with acts of terrorism is despicable,” said Lt. Col. Hugh McNeely, the deputy commander of 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry. “But when terrorists actively recruit them to risk their lives for goals that the child probably doesn’t even understand is evil. There’s just no other way to say it.”

Four members of a group known to recruit young children because of the reduced scrutiny they encounter from security officials, were arrested April 14, in Kirkuk by soldiers from the 12th Iraqi army Division for suspected insurgent activities, according to Maj. Charles Assadourian, the intelligence officer for 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry.

Assadourian said the youths were being trained to avoid detection while carrying out insurgent activities and were being taught to become suicide bombers.

Terrorist groups are capitalizing on the fact that children do not draw as much attention and Soldiers do not want to harm them, according to Chief Warrant Officer Two Michael Hyatt, the 2nd BCT 1st Cavalry fusion chief. Children that are hurt while carrying out insurgent activities are also being used in propaganda campaigns by terrorists depicting them as martyrs.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (June 1, 2009) – American combat troops are on pace to leave Iraqi cities by the June 30 deadline stipulated by the U.S.-Iraq security agreement, U.S. officials in Baghdad said Sunday.

Army Brig. Gen. Keith Walker, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group, said in a news conference that security throughout the country has continued to improve.

Pvt. Justin Smith takes a knee and pulls security with an Iraqi boy while on patrol in Sadr City, May 27. American troops are preparing to pull out of Iraqi cities by June 30.

Pvt. Justin Smith takes a knee and pulls security with an Iraqi boy while on patrol in Sadr City, May 27. American troops are preparing to pull out of Iraqi cities by June 30.

The security agreement calls for all coalition combat forces to be out of the cities by the end of the month. “We will adhere to the security agreement,” Walker said. “So, all combat forces will be out of the cities unless there is a specific invitation from the government of Iraq.”

U.S. forces will be available in advisory roles and to provide enabler capabilities, the general said.

In 2007, there was an average of 900 attacks per week. In 2008, that number dropped to 200 attacks per week. In 22 of the 26 weeks this year, fewer than 100 attacks have taken place per week nationwide, Walker said.

This improvement in security happened as the number of U.S. forces in Iraq declined by more than 20 percent from the height of the surge. “We have returned over 100 bases to Iraq since October,” the general said. “The provisions of the security agreement make our partnership with Iraqi forces that much more important.”

Today, Iraqi security forces conduct all operations. Coalition forces participate only with Iraqi concurrence. The coalition-Iraqi partnership “is characterized by combined planning, preparation and execution with Iraqi security forces in the lead,” he said. “It is enabled by a close working relationship and the collocation of partnership units and transition teams.”

The partnership’s coalition units help the Iraqi units with enablers, logistics and to ensure situational awareness between Iraqi forces and coalition forces.

Coalition transition units are now shifting attention to beefing up Iraqi command and control capabilities, sustainment and enabler units. “We have reached the point where partnership units are the core of what Multinational Corps Iraq does,” Walker said.

The corps will take over the partnership chores from the Iraq Assistance Group. “It no longer makes sense to have two organizations doing the same thing,” Walker said, so the mission of the group is folding into the corps.

Multinational Corps Iraq will handle the military and police transition teams and training for Iraqi forces in addition to operational responsibilities. The Iraqi Assistance Group will case its colors June 3.

Even once the U.S. units move out of the cities, they will remain associated with their Iraqi partners, Walker said. “They’ll have to drive a bit more, but they will be available,” he said.

The security agreement covers the entire country, so coalition forces will move out of areas such as Mosul, which have been fairly hot in the past months, the general said.

More than 600,000 Iraqis serve in the country’s security forces.

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Wing

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (May 28, 2009) – Air Force Airman 1st Class Alberto Lopez knew the guy was hiding something. He could feel it. The detainee was giving off “the vibe” that three months of working the visitation center at the theater internment facility here had taught the airman to detect. The Altus, Okla., native continued to search in the efficient, humane and dignified way he was taught, waiting for the “tell” that would give away what the man was hiding and where.

CAMP BUCCA, UMM QASR, Iraq- A painting depicting partnership between the United States and Iraq sits outside the gate leading to the Bucca Enrichment School at Camp Bucca's theater internment facility. The school teaches detainees valuable argriculture skills, as well as affords them the chance to paint, draw and do carpentry work. Final products are displayed throughout the TIF and other military compounds, and are used by the detainees themselves for entertainment purposes.

CAMP BUCCA, UMM QASR, Iraq- A painting depicting partnership between the United States and Iraq sits outside the gate leading to the Bucca Enrichment School at Camp Bucca's theater internment facility. The school teaches detainees valuable argriculture skills, as well as affords them the chance to paint, draw and do carpentry work. Final products are displayed throughout the TIF and other military compounds, and are used by the detainees themselves for entertainment purposes.

The detainee glanced down at just the wrong moment, and Lopez had him. The find: a rolled up piece of paper with contact information. Contacts for whom, Lopez didn’t know, but they weren’t getting outside the gate that day.

The find was one of nearly 40 instances when Lopez discovered contraband in the course of a standard search of detainees going to see their families. “It makes me feel like I’m really doing something,” Lopez said. “Finding information, numbers, names, addresses, … you name it.”

Finding contraband, an almost daily occurrence, is one goal of airmen with the 887th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron strive for as they process more than 750 detainees a week during visitation hours. The airmen on visitation duty must walk a fine line, conducting their searches as efficiently as possible while respecting the dignity of those they search and protecting other detainees, visiting families, and their fellow airmen, soldiers and Iraqi correctional officials.

“I think everyone on our team has an efficient way of searching,” said Airman Randal Landers, an 887th ESFS guard. “So they’re not going to try slipping anything by anyone here. If they do, it gets found.”

Contraband — anything not issued to the detainees — can encompass a wide variety of items from the seemingly benign, such as letters, to the downright frightening, such as improvised weapons. The security forces airmen must constantly be on their toes and remain alert.

Despite the danger to the airmen or the risk of information getting into enemy hands, the visitation program is an important piece of the ongoing counterinsurgency operation as well as a right under the Geneva Convention. “We give [the detainees] the opportunity to meet their families,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Tobin, 887th ESFS Visitation Flight chief. “It puts them at ease, shows them we hold true to what we said by treating them with dignity and respect.”

Originally from Norristown, Pa., but deployed from Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., Tobin said the security forces airmen are held to strict standards that allow them to search efficiently without risk of violating a detainee’s dignity and respect.

“The rules and guidelines are already set forth,” he said. “It’s not open to interpretation. As long as the guard force understands that, understands their role in it, there should be no issue in conducting the fair treatment that’s expected of us. It’s not a limiting factor to finding contraband. The contraband is there. We’re doing what we’re told, and the contraband is presenting itself rather easily.”

For the security teams, whether or not there should be visitation is obvious; it is a basic human right and legal obligation. And, the airmen note, it is a matter of human decency. “I know if I were detained, I’d want the right to visit my family and just see them for a couple of hours,” Landers said. “It’s just basic human treatment.”

Air Force Col. Alan Metzler, 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander, under which the 887th falls, highlighted the power of human decency in performing this mission. “Through these thousands of contacts with detainees and their families, we’ve learned one powerful, irrefutable fact: that our most important weapon in gaining their support for our strategic objectives in Iraq is our values as airmen and our values as Americans,” Metzler said.

As powerful as the weapon is, it doesn’t remove the constant threats the airmen face or eliminate another dangerous enemy – complacency. It’s an enemy they must face themselves. “It’s not a physically demanding job, but it’s a mentally demanding job in the sense that it’s repetitious,” Tobin said. “You have to stay motivated and understand what the goal is and the strategy behind all this.”

The best tools against complacency are motivation and teamwork, Tobin said. The airmen have to look out for one another and keep each other sharp…They have to maintain their focus and their teamwork,” he said. “Their best critics are their own peers.”

Air Force Airman 1st Class Raymond Garcia, an 887th ESFS guard, said the thought of the possible consequences and of harm that could befall their wingmen if they don’t remain sharp keeps complacency at bay.

“There’s been times when everybody gets the thought that, ‘Hey, it’s hot outside; I really don’t want to complete the whole search,’ and be lenient with them,'” Garcia said. “But then you have to remember that, what if that one time this individual happens to have a small, one-by-four inch shank hidden in his pants, and he comes out with it, and one of your friends gets hurt … because you wanted to hurry and get in the building where the air was?

“Everybody has thoughts of getting complacent,” he continued, “but me, personally, I get in there, and I do the mission the way I was taught to do it and make sure I do it right every time. That way, everybody can go home in one piece and get back safe.”

Lopez agreed. “I can’t get complacent, because I can’t let something get by,” he said. “We have to remind each other. Some of these detainees, we don’t know exactly what they’ve done, but we know they had to do something pretty bad to be in here. You can’t be all friendly or turn your back on them, because they can flip on us any second. I can’t get complacent.”

The risks don’t come without the promise of reward. Already, the efforts of the 887th are paying long-term dividends outside the visitation center and beyond Camp Bucca’s gates.

“The long-term aspect is that we’re influencing family members from all over Iraq,” Metzler said. “They can go back into their family units and say, ‘We trust the Americans. We have seen them and how they operate, and they treat us with respect.’ Because we treat everyone with dignity and respect, we have earned their respect as a result.”

It’s an effect every member of the visitation unit is aware of, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Keri Embry of Cross Plains, Tenn. The 887th ESFS member works with the visiting family members, processing them and even coordinating medical attention for those visitors who need it.

“It’s a good thing to maintain that humanity to show the people here that we’re not bad people, that we’re trying to help them as much as possible,” she said. “The Iraqis, as a whole, see that we do care what happens to them, that we’re not just here to find the bad guys. We’re trying to help the whole country get back on its feet.”

The impressions the guards make on detainees and family members can be lasting ones. Garcia said he sees signs of that trust every day.

“We have a really important mission here,” he said. “Not only are we working with the detainees, but we’re working with the kids too. So these kids grow up, and they remember how the airmen gave them snacks and interacted with them. A lot of the visitors will let them hold their kid when they cry, so it’s almost like we’re getting in there on a personal level. A lot of visitors will hopefully remember what we’re doing here and keep that in mind that a lot of us are really good.”

Metzler said each of his airmen is teaching these families what being an American means.

“They learn from our airmen,” he said. “Through the dignity and respect that we pay them, they learn about Americans. And the immediate effect is that they feel safety, security and trust. They tell us that. We see that.”

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (May 27, 2009) – Southern Iraq is “a much better place to live and raise a family than it was a year ago,” thanks to tremendous strides in security, governance, job opportunity and essential services, the commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team said Wednesday.

Iraqi citizens gather in front of the historical Ziggurat of Ur during a turnover ceremony at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq, May 13. The site is now officially controlled and guarded by the Dhi Qar police and managed by the Ministry Of Tourism.

Iraqi citizens gather in front of the historical Ziggurat of Ur during a turnover ceremony at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq, May 13. The site is now officially controlled and guarded by the Dhi Qar police and managed by the Ministry Of Tourism.

Army Col. Philip Battaglia described two major lines of progress he’s seen since his “Long Knife Brigade” arrived at Multinational Division South last year: one focused on security and the other, on local government.

“The Iraqi security forces have developed into a professional, lethal force, capable of independently securing their citizens and its sovereign borders,” he said.

Battaglia noted the role these forces played during Iraq’s recent provincial elections, for which they took the security lead at a time of “increased vulnerability.” In addition, the Iraqis took security responsibility for the 5,000-year-old Ziggurat of Ur, an ancient national treasure that previously had been protected by coalition forces. Battaglia called the transfer a high point for him and his solders and a highlight of their deployment.

“I am extremely proud to personally witness this special event in honor of a site that is one of the oldest structures in the history of the world,” he said at last week’s ceremony marking the transfer. “We will always look back on our time here as a very special moment in the history of this great nation.”

The colonel said he knows the site is in good hands. “I have the utmost confidence in the leaders and the capabilities of the army, police and the border police agencies within my area of operation,” he said. “It has been my brigade’s pleasure to partner with these forces this past year, and I truly believe that they will continue to have tremendous success.”

Meanwhile, the Long Knife Brigade has worked hand in hand with the Iraqis to improve governance. This, he said, has improved local government’s capability to provide essential services and economic opportunities to their people.

Battalgia outlined projects the provincial reconstruction teams and his brigade civil affairs soldiers have helped the Iraqis advance to improve infrastructure, deliver services and create jobs.

“We have had an amazing year, and we are proud to have been part of all these recent successes,” he said.

With about one-third of the brigade returned to Fort Hood, Texas, and the remainder to redeploy next month, Battaglia said he feels “extremely optimistic about the future of Iraq.”

“Due to the tremendous efforts of the Iraqi people, the Iraqi security forces, … the provincial reconstruction teams and the coalition forces, the three provinces of southern Iraqi are much better and safer places,” he said.

Battaglia praised his soldiers for their hard work and dedication and thanked the families and friends at home who supported them during their deployment.

“It has truly been a team effort this past year,” he said. “Our families’ sacrifices have allowed us to focus on our mission and to return back to Fort Hood next month with pride in a job well done.”

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Pfc. Christina Sinders
Gulf Region Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

BAGHDAD (May 14, 2009) – For engineer Wathiq Abdul Jabbar, the May 9 ribbon-cutting ceremony that capped a $2.4 million renovation of the Alwaiya Maternity hospital here was especially meaningful.

“I feel like I helped rebuild my home,” he said. “I was born and raised just four kilometers from this hospital, so it is a special place for me.”

An Iraqi grandmother proudly shows off her new grandchild May 9 at the newly renovated Alwaiya Maternity Hospital in Baghdad...

An Iraqi grandmother proudly shows off her new grandchild May 9 at the newly renovated Alwaiya Maternity Hospital in Baghdad...

In 2004, the hospital had a capacity of only 37 beds. Equipment failures and structural damage caused rooms and buildings to remain unused for many years. But that has all changed. The extensive makeover, which Abdul Jabbar described as a “skin off, skin on” renovation, brought the hospital’s capability back to 344 beds.

Abdul Jabbar, chairman of The Muhandis Inbbar Group, directed the project and spoke at the ceremony to officially open the hospital.

“I want to thank the American taxpayer for the help and assistance in making this renovation possible,” he said.

In his remarks, Abdul Jabbar acknowledged the expertise and support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division in the difficult construction process of a turbulent Baghdad city center. With better security, he said, more projects and improvements in his home area are possible.

Dr. Intisar Hassan al-Tuijari, hospital director, and Dr. Muhammad, a Rusafa-area city councilman, were among the key people who attended the event. Others included Karoly Okolicsanyi, the provincial reconstruction team representative for the U.S. Agency for International Development, hospital staff, Iraqi government officials, representatives from the USACE Gulf Region Central district, and Army Col. Tim McGuire, maneuver area commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

During his remarks, McGuire echoed Abdul Jabbar’s comments.

“I congratulate the people of Iraq on the refurbished hospital,” he said. “We are honored to be here and celebrate with you. This is a sign of the friendship of the American people with the Iraqi people, and we look forward to a long-term partnership, ensuring a bright future for the children of Iraq.”

The Alwaiya complex consists of 10 buildings, and it includes operating rooms and theaters, delivery rooms, patient wards and a section for premature infants. The hospital also has an external clinic, pharmacy, emergency rooms, prenatal health center and nursery. Alwaiya serves more than a million women on the east side of the Tigris River.

The scope of work for repairs and renovations expanded the hospital to a 344-bed facility while maintaining full services throughout the project. Renovation work included the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, boilers, electrical, structural, fire alarms, a nurse call system, a data communication network, a TV system and elevators.

Army Capt. Sean Heenan of Gulf Region Central acknowledged the team that was part of the hospital renovation.

“I was fortunate to be here and see this great project across the finish line,” he said. “So many people contributed to the success, but ultimately, the only thing worth remembering is the help this hospital provides the mothers of the Rusafa area of Baghdad.”

Abdul Jabbar credited hospital director Tuijari with keeping the hospital going in spite of the challenges.

“She was available day and night,” Abdul Jabbar said. “I often had to call her at odd hours, even late at night, and she was very helpful every time.”

The officer in charge of GRC’s International Zone Resident Office, Army Capt. Chad Wendolek, put the ceremony in perspective.

“A ribbon cutting is just a small expression of the dedication and hard work all the team members from the IZ Resident Office and central district put into this project,” he said. “I hope the Iraqi mothers and the children born here, cared for here, are told of the personal sacrifice many U.S. citizens made to help their nation and provide a future for generations to come.”

As Iraq strives to build a secure, stable and self-governing nation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division has completed hundreds of projects in the building, health and education sector. GRD projects have increased Iraq’s annual capacity to treat patients to about 6.6 million patients in hospitals and 4.6 million outpatients at the primary health care centers. Since 2004, USACE has completed 44 hospital renovation projects throughout Iraq, and currently has eight ongoing.

An Iraqi grandmother proudly shows off her new grandchild May 9 at the newly renovated Alwaiya Maternity Hospital in Baghdad...

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts.

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