CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Partnering with Iraqi Security Forces to improve conditions and help protect local citizens means more than just securing the neighboring provinces to the Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Part of the combat team's mission includes aiding the local citizens in improving their economic conditions as well.

Iraqi businessmen in Dhi Qar met with Soldiers from Contingency Operating Base Adder and the provincial reconstruction team at an Iraqi-based Industrial Zone program meeting, designed to promote small business development within the security of the base Oct. 13.

The program provides a means to directly impact the economy in the Dhi Qar province through employment opportunities, training and mentorship.

"This program sets the local nationals here up for success" said Maj. Tom Osborn, the I-BIZ application manager from Little Rock, Ark.

Abdul Jabar Alhadi, a member of the PRT and a business participant in the program, believes this is the type of movement that will help the people in this area.

"We need more encouragement like this for our people," he said. "In order to improve upon our system we need to learn more about it. I am glad that this program is here to reach out and help protect and develop our economic status."

During the workshop, local businessmen got a better understanding of the opportunities and services in which the base occupants may be interested. The Iraqis also completed applications for their respective businesses, and shared their views on what goods they would like to offer on base.

"One of our main priorities is to make sure that the businesses proposed benefit and facilitate our Soldiers here on the installation," said Lt. Col. Mark Nelson, the deputy commander of the 4th BCT. Nelson emphasized that the brigade's mission is securing and improving the conditions here for the people in southern Iraq.

"Our Soldiers here are making a difference, and this is just another example of how we are doing it," said Nelson.

Some of the long term goals for this project are to enable self-sustaining Iraqi owned companies, employ Iraqis in the Dhi Qar province and increase the working class in southern Iraq.

Currently, the 4th BCT Soldiers are teaching the local businessmen critical business techniques and skills that will enable the Iraqis to become successful in their future business endeavors.