FORWARD OPERATING BASE BERNSTEIN, TUZ, Iraq - As concern over Tuz's security situation dwindles, efforts to improve the police station and Joint Communication Center are redoubling.
Workspace improvements will lead to better functionality, according to Lt. Col. David Snodgrass, Deputy Commanding Officer of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, who visited the Tuz JCC June 21.
"This place can serve as the single point of contact for all emergency services," said Snodgrass, "and the ISF are ready, willing and able to take over."
Construction has begun on a new building, which will be located in the Tuz Mayor's Compound. In the meantime Soldiers from the Hurricane Platoon of the brigade's Special Troops Battalion are leading the efforts to enhance the police station, where the JCC is currently housed.
Maj. Mohammad Fadhel Aziz commands the Tuz JCC and has been partnering with the platoon for several weeks. The platoon acts in an advisory capacity, training the Iraqi officers on the most current communications technology and ensuring good data flow between all emergency services branches.
"Maj. Mohammad continues to do amazing things," said Lt. Col. Chris Stenman, Commander of the STB. "His vision doesn't stop with the new building - he looks beyond the troubles in Iraq to the peace there will be tomorrow. Through his guidance and direction, we have made a great deal of progress. This is the way ahead."
Renovations to the JCC and Tuz Police Station are bringing money to the neighborhood. Mohammad has hired local contractors to immediately enhance the station's appearance, including painters to give the building a quick pick-me-up.
Yuldar Mahmoud, one of the contractors who has been working at the JCC for the past week, makes his living painting walls in the Tuz area.
"I will go anywhere to paint, but this is right (around) the corner from my home.
I can walk here," said Yuldar, whose family depends on his painting business as their sole source of income.
These changes are possible because of the much-improved security situation in Tuz.
"This is a special place, because it's the one place in Iraq where everyone is living and working together in peace," said Snodgrass. "Whenever someone tells me Kurds, Arabs and Turcomen or Sunni and Shi'a can't get along, I tell them, 'Look at Tuz.' We've got a lot of good partnerships - we need to continue on this path."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16