BAGHDAD - To improve conditions in Iraq, Soldiers of the 2nd "Dagger" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division continue finding new ways to help reconstruct the communities in their area.

One recent project, a new two-story fire station in Nasir Wa Salam, was unveiled as part of reconstruction efforts designed to improve the quality of life while creating jobs for local Iraqis. Now, Coalition forces are paving new roads to make more improvements in the community by funding an asphalt and road paving equipment operator apprenticeship program to improve the streets of Baghdad.

"The new road project not only improves the infrastructure but it provides jobs to the Sons of Iraq," said 1st Lt. Justin Casey, a native of Ogdensburg, N.Y., and contracting officer representative assigned to Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. "This project takes former militiamen of Iraq and gives them a skill to provide for their families."

The SoI were Iraqi citizens who took up arms to protect their families and property from anyone who came into their community to cause any destruction, added Casey. With improved security in Iraq, Coalition forces realized a better use for these motivated Iraqis and introduced programs aimed at providing them life skills.

"It is things like the asphalt and road paving equipment operator apprenticeship program that will help build a better Iraq," said Casey. "This program can lead the students to more permanent jobs to better support their families."

The students receive classroom training and heavy equipment familiarization that teaches the fundamentals of performing maintenance on streets and highways, according to Casey. Students that successfully complete the course will receive a journeyman's certificate according to the skill level at which they have been taught.

The CF have funded an apprenticeship program to give the SoI an opportunity to put down their weapons and learn new skills to benefit their community, and help improve the infrastructure, rebuilding Iraq one road at a time.

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