Sunday, November 18, 2007

Good News from Iraq: 18 Nov 2007

From MNF-I, Market Thriving, Economy Improving in Baghdad Neighborhood.

BAGHDAD — Only seven months ago the Sugasimche (Fish Market) area in the Raabi neighborhood of the Adhamiyah district was filled with a violent, criminal element that struck fear into residents who didn’t feel safe to walk the streets.

But a change for the better occurred thanks to the persistent efforts of paratroopers from Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, who have worked with local security forces to restore the market area, making it once again a center of commerce for residents throughout Adhamiyah.

“When we first got to the neighborhood months ago it was a dangerous place to go,” said Clemens, Ore., native, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Burpee. “We focused our efforts in the neighborhood and took out the insurgents living in the area. After that, we enticed people to come. We built and refurbished schools there and provided security through the Iraqi Security Volunteer program. Now safety is a reality in this neighborhood. If you come here during the day or night, you see a lot of people shopping.”

The paratroopers still conduct daily patrols with Iraqi Soldiers and Police to build relationships with residents. Since 319th Soldiers have already built a strong bond with citizens in Raabi, the more residents see Iraqi Security Forces walking the neighborhoods with paratroopers, the more trust they will have toward the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police.

Burpee said that what his team and their Iraqi counterparts are doing is setting an effective security plan in place so the local people can feel safe. He believes that security is the main reason more stores are open and more people in the neighborhoods are showing up to shop. They made the actual market more inviting to improve commerce.

“If we don’t keep businesses opened up, the economy is going to collapse, there’s going to be no money circulating,” said Burpee. “We just got to keep working with our counterparts the Iraqi Army and Police and get them to the level they need to be, so we can transition this place to them and the local nationals still feel safe and willing to shop.”