Old Hickory Soldiers continue work in al-Rashid
June 22, 2009
BodyBAGHDAD Aca,!" The Soldiers of Company A, 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, attended a meeting of the al-Rashid District Advisory Council, here, June 9, mostly in an advisory role.
The meeting was to ensure that money allocated for public services was being properly utilized. Local Iraqi leaders gathered to discuss water, garbage pick-up and other public services, highlighting the growing self-sufficiency of the DAC, said Capt. Christian Smith, the commander of A Co.
Aca,!A"Our presence here is in a support role. If there are areas we can make an impact, we can choose to get involved, but it is largely a hands-off approach for us,Aca,!A? said Smith, a native of Morehead City, N.C. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a coaching and mentoring role,Aca,!A? he said.
Inside the al-Rashid DAC Facility, the chairmen of the districtAca,!a,,cs committees gathered to hear concerns from other civic leaders. At times, voices were raised as committee members refused to hear excuses from those responsible for carrying out public service needs.
Aca,!A"We told them not to use the Aca,!Eoelimited budgetAca,!a,,c excuse,Aca,!A? said Abbas Altaai, chairman of the al-Rashid DAC Services Committee. Aca,!A"We never want them to mention this excuse. We want them to spend the budget on projects so the public will see it.Aca,!A?
At one point during the meeting, council members discussed using debris from demolished buildings to cover a swampy area. The fact that Iraqis in al-Rashid worry more about things like standing water and garbage not being picked up show that security has returned to an area that was once plagued by violence, particularly the commercial areas, added Smith.
Aca,!A"The Doura Market was once an insurgent stronghold,Aca,!A? Smith said. Aca,!A"Now the Doura Market complex has become a show-off project to show how well the Coalition forces and the Iraqi Government can make things here.Aca,!A?
Abbas said he was glad to have Smith and his Aca,!A"Old Hickory BrigadeAca,!A? Soldiers at the meeting to help build on the relationship the al-Rashid council enjoyed with their predecessors.
Aca,!A"Being in the meeting is the best way to discuss long-term projects and a good way to coordinate since the new battalion came to the area,Aca,!A? Abbas said. Aca,!A"This is a good invitation to build good relationships with Coalition forces.Aca,!A?
Smith added that the DAC meetings are also a good way to get non-government leaders involved in their community.
Aca,!A"There are certain leaders in the community who donAca,!a,,ct have a role in the government but they might be economic leaders or tribal leaders and by us meeting with them, it gives them more credibility,Aca,!A? said Smith.
Local leaders are effectively delegating public service jobs and communicating as citizens also find a voice with their district council, according to Smith.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm satisfied in the respect that theyAca,!a,,cre capable of running their own meeting and IAca,!a,,cm happy that they invited us to their meeting,Aca,!A? Smith added.
As the DAC leaders take a step up by asserting themselves in al-Rashid, American Soldiers take a step back from directly assisting the Iraqis so they can take control of their country.