By Marine Cpl. Frances L. GochJuly 7, 2008
The Iraqi security forces have become more successful at improving the quality of life for the Iraqi people by making the country safe enough to start the reconstruction of essential services.
A year ago, reconstruction efforts as extensive as they are today would not have been possible because of the terrorist threat said Lt. Col. James Mc-Donald, reconstruction operations chief, Multi-National Corps - Iraq.
Today, through coordination of MNC-I, the Government of Iraq, Multi-National Forces - Iraq and the United States Mission - Iraq, schools, hospitals, electrical generation substations and sewer lift stations continue to be reconstructed and rehabilitated.
"Iraq has produced more electricity over the last 12 months than it ever has," McDonald said. "This exceeds the pre-war generation of power."
The coalition forces and the GoI are trying to show the Iraqi people that they can trust their government to take care of essential needs by providing reliable electricity, clean water and safe schools, said McDonald.
"The best way to do this is to stabilize the infrastructures the population relies on," said McDonald. "If we [GoI and coalition forces] provide the basic needs in life, people do not feel the need to go to extreme measures to support themselves."
Iraqis are learning trades and taking the initiative to improve their lives through these reconstruction efforts.
"Most of the reconstruction efforts are funded and executed by the Iraqis," said McDonald.
Throughout reconstruction and rehabilitation of establishments, the Iraqis are receiving training on construction, operation and maintenance.
After Al-Qaeda was pushed out of Al Hawr Rajab, there was a perfect opportunity to rebuild the town that had been taken over, terrorized and destroyed by the Al Qaeda, said Maj. John T. Pope, operations engineer officer in charge, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. With this came a chance to educate people from the town in construction trades so they will be able to provide better lives for themselves and their community.
While rebuilding Al Hawr Rajab the engineers trained Iraqi people wanting to learn construction. The Iraqis quickly learned that coalition forces were not like the Al-Qaeda previously evicted.
"As we get closer to you we find you as friends," stated a letter from the April construction class. "Your friendship has broken the barriers between us. The practice (you have taught us) has changed the path of our life."
While reconstruction efforts are gaining momentum, Iraq still has a long journey to travel until its people can live at a standard that the people of a developed country would expect.
We can't expect the same progress from an undeveloped country that has been at war or suffered the consequences of war for nearly 30 years that you could expect from a developed country that has been at peace for more than 50 years, said Pope.
"You can't repair 30 years of damage and destruction quickly or easily while still trying to stabilize a country," said McDonald.