War on Terrorism

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the Ground: Troops Keep Transportation, Humanitarian Efforts on Track

American Forces Press Service

Feb. 11, 2009 - Mileage was made on several fronts in Iraq recently, with U.S. and Iraqi forces teaming up to get a train rolling again and working to improve the quality of life for Baghdad children. In Taji, Iraq, northwest of Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. forces completed a transportation project, signifying a step forward for Iraq's distribution capability.

A 20-car Iraqi Railroad train picked up 40 empty containers yesterday from Iraqi Transportation Network trucks in Camp Taji and moved the cargo to the port of Umm Qasr, marking the first operation for the rail spur since 2004. The operation was an important step in linking Iraqi trucking, rail and port operations, officials said.

"I think it was very successful, because this will be the first time we had the Iraqis come into Taji and pick up stuff and move it out," Army Maj. Peter P. Vien, engineer for the 10th Sustainment Brigade, said.

The Iraqi Railroad is a key piece of transportation infrastructure for Iraq, said Army Maj. Scott D. Meyer, Strategic Mobility-IRR program officer for Multinational Force Iraq. He pointed out that Iraq has the potential to become a hub for moving cargo from the port at Umm Qasr to Turkey, Syria and Jordan.

Sustainers and transportation experts from the 10th Sustainment Brigade provided partnership and planning for the operation.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a humanitarian effort delivered cargo of a different kind, this time to children.

More than 800 blankets and dozens of children's toys were donated to Iraqi civilians during an Iraqi-led humanitarian drive Feb. 4 in eastern Baghdad's New Baghdad district.

Iraqi National Police, aided by U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, gave wool blankets and toys to area children.

"We love and support the National Police," said Abd Muhammad Jaheel, a recipient of a blanket. "This is such a great gift for us, and we are very happy."

This is the second humanitarian drive in the last two weeks led by Iraqi police and their U.S. counterparts in the New Baghdad district.

"The great thing about working with leaders in this area is that they care about their community," Army Lt. Col. Louis Zeisman, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, said. "It is very rewarding to work with [local leaders] as they not only ensure the security of the populace, but also work to improve the quality of life of those they serve."

The combined forces also are planning a series of school supplies distribution events to help local schools.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases. Army Staff Sgt. Alex Licea of the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office contributed to this article.)

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