Monday, June 9, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 9 Jun 2008

From MNF-I, Al Jadida Pool Opening Makes Big Splash. :D

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY — Scoring a refreshing blow against impending sweltering summer temperatures, Al Jadida officials decided to get their feet wet and dive headfirst into meeting the needs of the local populace.

A nearly three-month project to renovate Baghdad Al Jadida Pool Complex was officially complete when the swimming pool reopened to the public June 7.

A mixture of area residents, local Iraqi officials and religious leaders, and representatives of Multi-National Division – Baghdad’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), attended the event to see if the grand opening would make a big splash. All indications are it did.

“It was an excellent ceremony, and the sheikhs (are) very appreciative of all the effort that went into the renovation of the pool and the ceremony,” said Sayyid Abdul Hadi al Jazairy, a prominent Imam from Baghdad al Jadida. “We hope for continued positive events in the future.”

In a joint effort between Government of Iraq officials and Patriot Brigade leaders from 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div., the existing Baghdad Al Jadida pool site was identified as one of four pools in Baghdad to renovate and put into operation for the summer months, explained Maj. Jeffrey Smith, Patriot Brigade civil-military operations officer in charge.

“The renovation of the pool with Commanders Emergency Relief Program funds assists the government of Iraq in a return to normalcy for the civilian populace and, as a joint effort, became a major non-lethal offensive,” said Smith. “The brigade’s objective is to ensure all remember and continue to look out for the kids of Baghdad: the future of Iraq.”

The purpose of the CERP-funded project is to support Iraqi efforts to generate tangible signs of normalcy while initiating training and employment opportunities for Iraqis, emphasized Smith. Patriot Brigade leaders nominated pools within their operational environment to be refurbished based on justifying why the pools would provide the greatest benefit to their neighborhoods. The brigade coordinated with three political district’s beladiyahs, directors general, neighborhood councils and district councils in selecting and nominating pools, explained Smith.

The project began March 19. Renovations included replacing a broken diving board, painting the exterior wall, repairing and maintaining plumbing, cleaning bathroom facilities, demolishing buildings and creating a parking area. Officials spent more than $375,000 and employed 45 locally contracted workers during the project.

The brigade continues to coordinate efforts with the GoI to get pools operational and is working on refurbishing two more pools, said Smith.

“Our number one priority is security,” he stated, “and an operational pool will contribute to visible signs of normalcy for everyone.”