Faces From the Front for May 25, 2009 - Chief Warrant Officer Michael Harden
Current Unit: 416th Theater Engineer Command
Current Position: Gulf Region North Reconstruction Program Manager for US Army Corps of Engineers
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: COB Speicher, Iraq
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
Years of Service: 24
When Chief Warrant Officer Michael Harden deployed to Iraq in December 2008, he had questions about what the war had accomplished for the Iraqi people and what progress had been made. But his time on the ground has given him a front line perspective on how life for the Iraqi people is changing every day. Now serving in the Gulf Region North District, Harden has been working as a part of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on construction efforts, first as the Officer in Charge of the Sulaimaniyah Resident Office, and since April as the Gulf Region North Reconstruction Program Manager.
Harden has overseen the construction of clinics, hospitals, and schools; and is now working to ensure funding for large-scale projects such as the renovation of the Chamchamal and Fort Suse prisons. With each completed project Harden says he has witnessed a positive impact on the lives of Iraqi citizens, from creating jobs in otherwise desolate areas to incorporating safer job practices for workers at local construction companies.
"We are creating a path of reconstruction" said Harden. Harden believes the work they are doing will benefit the Iraqi people for years to come.
By working closely with local Iraqi nationals Harden says he has learned a great deal about the Iraqis' history and culture and witnessed firsthand their continued work toward a life of stability and their appreciation for American support.
"You want them to have a better life. They are working hard to make it happen and you get caught up in it and work hard to help them get there," said Harden.
Harden is scheduled to return home in November 2009 to his wife, Julie and their children Lindsay, Eric, and Thomas. Lindsay has followed in her father's bootsteps, now serving as a captain in the Marine Corps.