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Soldiers Promote Iraqi Economic Opportunity, Self-reliance

By Army Sgt. Keith M. Anderson
Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2008 – Coalition forces here are working to help Iraqi entrepreneurs learn the skills needed to earn the money to remain successful after coalition forces leave.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Ahmed, Zekeriya and Wesam shovel out tiling materials at the 16th Sustainment Brigade headquarters building at Contingency Operating Base Q-West, Iraq, Sept. 13, 2008. The cousins are among more than 150 Iraqis who work on the base as part of the Iraqi-based industrial zone initiative. Besides employing local nationals, the COB has paid out $7.9 million in contracts to Iraqi business as of Sept. 1 for the fiscal year, with a monthly impact of $274,433 going back into Iraq’s Ninevah province. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Keith M. Anderson, 16th Sustainment Brigade

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone initiative is helping 14 Iraqi-owned businesses -- six of them industrial and eight retail -- operating on Q-West.

The businesses were awarded land-use agreements to operate on the contingency operating base and sell goods and services to soldiers, contractors, local nationals and foreign nationals.

Some also are awarded contracts. As of Sept. 1, the base had paid out $7.9 million in contracts for the fiscal year, with a monthly impact of $274,433 going back into Ninevah province, according to the badging office at Q-West, which tracks IBIZ contracts and impact.

"As the local population becomes more invested in the growth and prosperity of their local economy, they are less likely to join the local insurgency," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Shanahan, events and communication noncommissioned officer in charge.

Shanahan added that many of the more than 150 Iraqis who work on Q-West are learning job skills such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning repair and vehicle and generator maintenance and welding, which will allow them to be successful after coalition forces leave.

"The key is for these individuals to establish themselves and survive on the skills they learn," Shanahan said.

Officials here are in the process of awarding a land-use agreement for an Iraqi-owned gas station to be built on Q-West, said Army Capt. Todd Howell, events and communication officer in charge.

"Local nationals and foreign nationals will pay for the fuel they use," Howell said. "And they will build it according to American standards. We don't have to do that, but when we turn over this COB to Iraq, we will be responsible for the environmental state of this site, so it's not in our best interest to let anyone skim on standards."

The base also is negotiating a cell phone tower and concrete batch plant, Howell said.

(Army Sgt. Keith M. Anderson serves in the 16th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office .)

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Multinational Corps Iraq

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