FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq-Driving from one end of Bidawa village in Kirkuk province to the other used to be a challenge, but thanks to the addition of two new road culverts the trip is much easier.

After nearly 70 days of construction, these new road culverts are ready for use.

The concrete culverts span over a 50 meter waterbed thus linking one side of the road to another. Water flows easier now underneath the culverts between irrigation canals which has increased water flow to local famers crops.

"Building these two road culverts will greatly increase the transportation infrastructure of the village," said 2nd Lt. Jonathan Lent, a Bloomburg, N.Y., native and a civil military operations officer with 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Not only will these culverts increase the flow of traffic in the village, but it will also increase the flow of water between the two wadis or irrigation canals that the villages use for crop irrigation, explained 2nd Lt. Lent.

In addition to these benefits, the new culverts were also built to repair damage done years ago.

"The village of Bidawa was recently rebuilt after being demolished under the former regime," said 2nd Lt. Lent.

"Many of the residents have yet to return," said Capt. Brennan Mullaney, a Cumberland, Md., native and the commander of Troop Bravo, 4-9 Cav. "The project was geared at encouraging the original residents to return to their homes."

"Right now there are approximately 800 people in Bidawa," said Capt. Mullaney.

According to Capt. Mullaney, this project supports all of them, and if all the former residents move back, it will be supporting about 2,400 people.

Thirty temporary employees were hired from the local community to complete this project.

"Hiring the local villagers helps to build the local economy and increase employment," explained Lent. "In addition, workers from the area will take greater pride in their work."

The Iraqi contractor, a resident of the village, offered to do additional free work on the culverts that was not covered under the contract to make the culverts even better, said 2nd Lt. Lent.

It is important to support local communities in two respects, said Lent. One, by hiring local workers, and two, by providing small communities with projects that support them.

This is one of two projects completed recently; the other being a water pump house that was constructed in Laylan, Iraq.

"The residents appeared to be pleased with the work, and were happy that their small village was receiving assistance," said Capt. Mullaney.

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