'Black Jack' engineers secure canal, build international relations
September 7, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2011 -- For more than three years, no water has flowed through the Septia Canal, which once provided Iraqi citizens with irrigation for the farms surrounding Contingency Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq.
By the end of September, water will once again pour through miles of the canal, in and around the cities of Septia and Al Raga, said Lt. Col. Mark Davey, commander 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division-North.
The project took one month to complete, and will provide more than 1,200 farms in the area with water, said Shawkat Kareem, the Septia Sheikh. Working with the Diyala Central Services and the U.S. Army, Kareem supervised the project from the beginning.
Engineers from Company C, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd AAB, 1st Cavalry Division, provided security for Kareem and the Iraqi nationals working on the canal.
Workers cleared the canals of debris, weeds and concertina wire, said 2nd Lt. John Gilmore, platoon leader with Company C. A working canal provides water to the farms, which in turn, provides food and work for families in the local villages, explained Kareem.
"The canal will help improve the standard of living around [Septia]," he added, "and will raise the income and economy."
Davey agreed with Kareem's expectations of the economy.
"This project will impact the economy of Diyala province in a very positive way," Davey said. "The project ensured good will between the USF, local governance and all people in Diyala."
Capt. Louis-Philippe Hammond, commander of Company C, said he was grateful for the opportunity to help Kareem, and was impressed with the progress being made.
"I am very proud to see the work that's been accomplished," explained Hammond. "It is all because of the Sheikh. His efforts have helped enhance the project."
Kareem was equally grateful for the efforts of the U.S. and the protection they provided his workers.
"[The Soldiers] have helped us and we are working in a safe environment," added Kareem. "I want to thank the American forces for their effort to open the canal, their friendship and partnership."