Army fulfills obligations, pays claims for land use
September 27, 2010
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Iraqi citizens who own the land on Forward Operating Base Paliwoda were compensated for the use of their land during a claims payment mission held at Joint Base Balad, Sept. 19-21, 2010.
U.S. forces use of private land throughout Iraq was vital to strategic interests during the war. However, the land was not just taken from the country and the Iraqi citizens that own it. Per the Security Agreement signed by both the U.S. and Iraqi governments, the citizens whose land is being used by U.S. forces are to be compensated appropriately.
Soldiers from the Client Services section of the 3rd Infantry Division Staff Judge Advocate office began receiving claims for payment of leases when FOB Paliwoda was closed in January of this year, said Capt. Todd Chard, the chief of Client Services for the 3rd ID SJA. The Client Services section then began working with the U.S. Forces-Iraq J-7 Real Estate Division to track down names of all people who owned land used at FOB Paliwoda. After all proper claimants were identified and funding was obligated, the names were released to local government for notification, he added.
The mission paid claims totaling the equivalent of approximately $1 million, converted into Iraqi Dinar, to just under 300 claimants for the use of their land dating back to 2006. These claimants represented nearly half of all retroactive leases in Iraq. Captain Chard said it was important because it carried a message to the Iraqis that U.S. forces are keeping their word by fulfilling these lease obligations.
"The Iraqis know that U.S. forces are leaving," said Capt. Chard, a Hudson Falls, N.Y., native. "We don't want to leave with the Iraqis thinking that we are occupiers, we are not. We pay for what we use and we want to compensate these civilians for some of the troubles they have endured because of the war."
Captain Chard coordinated with the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command SJA at JBB to conduct the payouts because JBB is closer to where FOB Paliwoda was located.
The payments were well received, and one Iraqi man already has plans for using the money.
"[The claims process] was very easy," said Athir Muhmmad Salman, a teacher and owner of land that was used for FOB Paliwoda. "The amount they gave me was moderate, not a large amount, but enough. I plan to use the money to purchase a new car; mine is old and broken."
As Iraqis left the pay station with the money that was owed to them, Capt. Daniel D'Isidoro, an operational law attorney for the 3rd ID SJA commented on the success of the mission.
"Everything moved along quickly," Capt. D'Isidoro, a Braintree, Mass., native, said.
"All proper claims were settled and everyone was in a good mood as they were leaving. We had an excellent turnout."