Reconstruction Teams Seek Long-Range Solutions in Iraq
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2007 The embedded provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq are looking at long-term solutions to problems in the country that undermine security progress, the chief of the team embedded with the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division said today.
Paul Folmsbee said his group in Adhamiya and Sadr City is working to cement progress in place. Each of the 20 U.S. brigades in Iraq now has an embedded provincial reconstruction team that combines resources of the military, the State Department, and other government and non-government agencies.
“The U.S. military's doing a fantastic job coming in and, with (Commanders Emergency Response Program) projects … solving immediate problems,” Folmsbee said during a news conference with Pentagon reporters. “In Adhamiya, for example, we're working with the government of Iraq to work on a heavy fuel oils program that will solve in a year some of the intermediate needs of electricity for that whole district.”
Generating electricity is one key to convincing Iraqis that their lives are getting better. Security has improved in the region, and now the Iraqi government and coalition personnel have a chance to enter the areas and provide the basic services that Iraqis need.
The embedded team is divided into rule of law, governance, economic development and essential services, he said. In each area there are specific projects. “As an example, in rule of law, we are setting up a legal center, which will work on legal care for women in Sadr City and Adhamiya,” Folmsbee said. The rule of law team also is working on an ombudsman program in Adhamiya to assist in detainee issues.
In the economic development area, the team has a program to get Iraqi-grown produce from the countryside to Baghdad. This program complements the “safe market” program the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team is working on, he said.
The market program has helped jump-start the economy of the area, said Army Col. B. Don Farris, the 2nd BCT commander.
“How do we get increased employment to get these military-age males some … form of earning a living, so that they aren't enticed to commit violence?” Farris asked. “And these markets are … a unique Iraqi solution. Just creating a little bit of security, going in and working with these co-ops, providing some micro-loans, it has really flourished in our sector. And we're very enthusiastic about that particular initiative.”