By Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Addis
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 23, 2008 - Leaders from Multinational Division Baghdad's 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, joined the Taji Area Essential Services Committee to check on Iraqi government-funded projects in Taji, northwest of Baghdad, Oct. 15. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Mackey, a native of San Bernardino, Calif., and commander of the 14th Cavalry Regiment, met with the Taji chief of essential services to view several ongoing projects. The chief of essential services oversees water, agriculture, electricity and buildings, among other duties.
Among the stops on this day was to visit a road-paving project along the Grand Canal.
"The paving of this particular road, which runs parallel to Grand Canal, is purely managed and funded by the government of Iraq," said Army Capt. John Still, a native of Erie, Pa., essential services project coordinator for 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. "The road is one of the more frequently used roads in the area, so the paving will help expedite the traffic for not only the residents, but [also] for the farmers who make their living selling at the market."
The team also took a look at four schools in the area. One of the schools is in the process of rebuilding, and the other three are being refurbished, all funded by the Iraqi government. Three of the four schools were destroyed by al-Qaida in Iraq during the peak of sectarian violence several years ago. All the schools' walls were repaired, and the projects included adding electricity, flooring and furniture.
The Iraqi government spent more than $1.1 million "to bring normalcy back to this area," said Army Capt. Ken Bernier, a native of Garland, Maine, and projects and contracting officer for 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment. The projects provided employment for local people, he noted. "And the focus on education is becoming more evident by the dedication shown here to create more places for the children to learn," he said.
The squadron's soldiers will continue to work hand in hand with the New Taji Nahia council, maintaining the strong bond that was created 10 months ago when the unit arrived, Bernier said.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Addis serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)