By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 26, 2007 - The improved security environment in Iraq is creating conditions that promote the large-scale infrastructure projects under way to support Iraq's security forces, a defense official in Iraq told online journalists and "bloggers" today. Navy Cmdr. Patrick Mack, deputy engineer for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, noted marked security improvements, particularly since August.
He noted that when he arrived in Iraq in March, security problems hindered MNSTCI's efforts to develop or renovate sites for Iraq's police, national police, army and border patrol forces. Material being shipped to work sites was frequently interdicted, and workers were intimidated by insurgents "not necessarily interested in stabilization of that particular region," Mack said.
Now, with better security conditions, MNSTCI's work is moving full steam ahead, and the Iraqis are beginning to take control of paying for their own construction, he said.
Mack reported about 170 active projects under way throughout Iraq, and delivery of $5.4 billion in infrastructure projects since the effort began in 2004. Working with their Iraqi counterparts, MNSTCI completes about 10 police stations a month, as well as a new base for the Iraqi army every quarter.
"So it's been a substantial engagement" with the Iraqi Defense and Interior ministries, Mack said.
Mack said he's gratified to see the Iraqi ministries get more actively involved in providing facilities for their security forces – from identifying what's needed, to planning and arranging payment for it, to building a maintenance capability to sustain it.
These deliveries, and enhanced engagement with the Iraqi ministries, are paying off "in increased through-put of capabilities" in the Iraqi army and police forces, he said.
Meanwhile, Mack said, the drop in violence is giving the ministries and the Iraqi people overall the ability to look beyond immediate concerns to what's ahead.
"As you gain some advances in security, it gives those folks an ability to focus on the future," he said. "It allows you to focus on the business at hand."