|BAGHDAD, Aug. 9, 2006 — “We’re making a difference, one project at a time,” says a Navy man who is finishing a six-month tour deployed to one of Iraq’s most dangerous areas. “I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish as we worked side-by-side with some truly remarkable and courageous Iraqi people.”
Chief Petty Officer Brian Cissell was responsible for overseeing 55 projects in an area in south Baghdad province, referred to by many as the “Triangle of Death.” He was involved in four separate improvised explosive device detonations. He earned an Army Combat Action Badge for one of those engagements and has been nominated for a Navy Combat Action Ribbon for a firefight involving insurgents.
He said despite the constant insurgent threat there, he made it a point to get out and visit community leaders and residents on almost a daily basis in places such as Mahmudiyah, Yusufiyah, and Lutifiyah.
Cissell opened a Gulf Region Division office at Mahmudiyah Forward Operating Base in March.
“The conditions were spartan, but the opportunity to positively impact the lives of families in nearby neighborhoods was awesome,” he said.
Cissell, working with five Iraqi engineers, helped upgrade hospitals, schools, police stations, and council buildings, but said his top priority was getting water and sewer plants functioning and electrical distribution networks back on line.
Of those projects, he singled out the Yusufiyah Water Treatment Plant as his favorite. That $211,800 Commander’s Emergency Response Program-funded project upgraded a dilapidated plant constructed in 1972 and was completed in June. The components of the water treatment plant were all rebuilt, including the pumps, the generator, the treatment tanks, the chemical injection system, and the electrical control system. The plant is now capable of producing 1,000 cubic meters of fresh, potable water per hour, enough to meet the needs of 100,000 residents in that area.
“This wasn’t a quick-fix project … it addressed the long-term needs of the community,” Cissell said.
“Unfortunately, militias and anti-Iraqi forces continue to target basic essential services throughout that area as they try to discourage residents and force them to leave,” he added. “Those local families look to us for assistance and I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help. We’re getting them more electrical power each day, sewage is being pumped out of the streets, we’ve completed a couple of new schools, a number of water treatment plants, and the drainage canals have been cleaned out.
“Millions of dollars have been invested in those neglected towns and the people appreciate the effort. And it’s not just