By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
April 21, 2008 - Recent operations in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood are part of the overall Baghdad security plan and necessary to rebuilding in the area, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman told reporters yesterday. "The Baghdad security plan is to come in and create security in Baghdad, and as the neighborhoods become safe, then we can bring in other services," Navy Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said in Baghdad. "In the southern part of Sadr City, they're establishing that -- an area of security."
Specifically, coalition and Iraqi forces conducted Sadr City operations to facilitate the delivery of day-to-day essentials like food, water and some emergency medical supplies, Driscoll said.
Once the area is totally secure additional service will be brought in. Larger reconstruction projects -- fixing and building hospitals, and restoring electricity and water -- will take time, he added.
"You've got to have security first before you can get the people in ... to do those things," Driscoll said. "Otherwise, ... construction workers will come in [and] they'll be subject to intimidation and extortion. They'll be threatened, and they won't be able to get the job done."
Thanks to $150,000,000 the Iraqi government has allocated to Sadr City, Driscoll said, he hopes the infrastructure reconstruction will begin quickly once the area is secure.
Driscoll conducted the brief with Tahseen Sheikly, the civilian spokesman for Operation Fardh al-Qanoon. Sheikly said the government's priorities are to bring basic services back online to "hot zones."
"The government of Iraq has set the priorities that such places need some good care and ... providing the basic services and also getting out the projects for the infrastructure so that we can provide the best services to the inhabitants of those place," he said. "As Prime Minister (Nouri al-)Maliki announced, ... this year will be a year of construction, and it cannot be done without having a good security."
Iraqi security forces are taking the lead on providing that security with support from coalition forces, Driscoll said.