BAGHDAD, Iraq - Whether it is for a new building, a bridge or even a nation - a strong foundation - with the proper supports, makes it possible to flourish and grow and stand the test of time.

American and Iraqi engineers are doing just that; building strong foundations today that will ensure a safe and secure Iraq for the future.

More than 100 senior level U.S. and Iraqi engineers attended the Iraqi Ground Force Command Engineer Conference held at Camp Iraqi Heroes, an Iraqi base camp in Baghdad, to discuss theater-wide engineering capabilities and to plan the path forward in security and reconstruction efforts.

"While our mission focus remains the same, we have many changes and challenges facing us," said Maj. Gen. Michael Eyre, commander of the Gulf Region Division and senior engineer at the conference. "It has never been more important for us to bring together our engineering forces, to synchronize our efforts and provide the full spectrum of mutually supporting engineering capabilities and services."

As reconstruction efforts continue to shift to the government of Iraq, increasing the number and training of Iraqi engineers is essential to design, construct and maintain the country's infrastructure. According to Eyre, Iraqi engineers initially worked side-by-side with U.S. engineers only with route clearance, but have continued to increase their capabilities and capacity into full-spectrum engineer operations, including construction, bridging bomb disposal and geospatial operations.

"One of the things I have noticed as I travel across Iraq is that every day you are increasing your capacity to provide dependable engineer support throughout the country - not only for today's missions and projects, but for those of the future," said Eyre. "Your officers, NCOs and Soldiers continue to develop professionally while maintaining reliable engineer support to the Iraqi Army Divisions."

Participants around the room recognized the vital role engineers have in providing essential services and infrastructures to its citizens, but they also noted that engineers need the resources - manpower, equipment and training - to accomplish their mission.

"The security environment has improved in Iraq as a result of the work done not only by the Iraqi security forces and the Coalition forces, but also due to the hard work of engineers," said Staff Maj. Gen. Abdul Ameer, Iraqi Ground Force Command Chief of Staff.

"However, the stage in which we live today and over the past year, indicate that the largest battle ground is the battle for military engineering {assets}. We are here to determine the readiness of our regiments and understand the problems they are facing."

The foundation is the most important part of any construction and its purpose is to support all other parts of the structure so it will function correctly. That is the intention of this conference said Eyre.

"Conferences like this are an opportunity for U.S. and Iraqi engineers to continue to work together as partners and engineers and to discuss our shared successes and find resolution to our challenges," said Eyre.

"Each of you in this room plays an important role in building strong foundations today for tomorrow - ensuring a stable and self-reliant Iraqi Security Force and a secure, sovereign Iraq."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq has completed thousands of reconstruction projects in partnership with the U.S. government and the government of Iraq. Since 2004, 5,257 projects throughout Iraq valued at more than $8.9 billion have been completed, and 361 projects are ongoing.

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