By Sgt. Rebekah Malone, 225th Eng. Bde.August 3, 2009
BAGHDAD - Late at night, after the blazing sun has gone down, Soldiers from B Company, 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 225th Engineer Brigade and the 9th Iraqi Army Engineer Regiment work on building housing units for Soldiers at al-Rasheed in the Rusafa district of central Baghdad, July 30.
Pfc. Joshua Prietoruiz, of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, said working the IA engineers has been an interesting part of his nearly 15 month deployment.
"It's awesome!" he said. "They love working and I've learned (Arabic) words, about their culture and they have a sense of humor."
The dual-mission of providing new housing is coupled with training the IA Soldiers to prepare the troops for the eventual withdrawal of American forces. After working with the IA Soldiers, Prietoruiz thinks they are ready.
"I think they are ready to rock and roll," he said with a smile.
The 16 by 32 feet buildings can house more than 15 Soldiers and will serve as temporary housing for transient Soldiers. Once American forces leave, the IA engineers will more than likely use the housing units.
"The Iraqi Army engineers want to be involved side by side with the U.S. Soldiers ... as a team, together more and more each day," said Staff Sgt. Cornelius Woods, of Natchez, Miss., noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the project. "It's something wonderful to see."
Woods paired the U.S. and IA engineers up into teams to learn all aspects of the construction of the B-Hut; from cutting, to framing to fabricating the buildings. With a U.S. Soldier in charge of each team, one on one instruction was given to each IA engineer.
"We have learned a lot of stuff from the Americans. We used new equipment we will probably use in the future," said Jundi Ali Shaker Yaseen, IA Engineer. "The hands-on learning is a new experience."
Woods explained that all the hard work the engineers performed together did more than just build B-Huts, it built a stronger partnership.
"It makes the Soldiers happy because 20 years down the road, they can see what they accomplished. It builds morale," Woods said. "They take group photos and tell us thanks for helping."