By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 27, 2007 - Establishing proper maintenance procedures and operations processes is as important as providing power plants, hospitals and other infrastructure in Iraq, a senior U.S. military engineer said today. The United States has contributed almost $14 billion toward Iraq's rebuilding effort, including nearly 4,000 projects designed to help improve the country's infrastructure and central services, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Dorko, commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference.
Yet, improving the state of Iraq's infrastructure isn't only about providing "brick and mortar" items like roads, bridges, hospitals, and water treatment and electric power plants, Dorko said.
"It is every bit as important to meet the needs of the Iraqi society and the Iraqi people, as it is anywhere in the world, to focus on operations and management and maintenance sustainment policies, practices and procedures that allow those pieces of infrastructure to be effectively and efficiently used to meet the needs of the people of Iraq for years or decades or even generations to come," Dorko said.
For example, the general noted that 142 health care centers are being built for the people of Iraq, including a new children's hospital in Basra.
"We're also working with the staffs of those centers to ensure they know how to operate the equipment in the facilities and how to maintain the facilities so they're sure to function at their optimal levels for years to come," Dorko said.
Other training programs are under way for Iraqi employees who work on the country's electrical generation, transmission and distribution systems, the general pointed out.
"We're providing training for workers on operating, monitoring and maintaining what is a very complex system," Dorko said, noting Iraq's power grid capability is improving daily.
As part of these efforts, the Gulf Division is implementing a $345 million infrastructure sustainment program that instructs Iraqi employees how to provision, operate, manage and maintain their facilities over the long term, Dorko explained.
The numerous training programs underway greatly affect the Iraqi economy, Dorko pointed out, noting that more than 470 contracts totaling more than $200 million have been awarded to Iraqi business women.
More than 100 Iraqi engineers have taken online courses teaching project management skills, the proper repair of masonry and concrete and many other subjects, the general said.
"And, we've trained more than 690 employees in the Ministry of Water Resources on how to operate and maintain water treatment facilities," Dorko said.
Dorko took over the Gulf Division on Oct. 10 from outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Michael J. Walsh. Dorko is back on duty after being wounded by shrapnel from an enemy improvised explosive device Oct. 29 in northern Baghdad.