Coalition Forces See Iraqi Neighborhood’s Markets Flourish
By Spc. Alexis Harrison, USA
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Nov. 7, 2007 Just a few months ago, Operation Rogue Thunder began to reclaim the streets of Jamia and Adel, Iraq, from the grip of violence. Today, the streets not only are peaceful, they’re also thriving.
Troops from 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division Military Transition Team; 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment; and their Iraqi counterparts have seen what was once a community gripped by fear come out of hiding and begin living for the first time in a long time.
Before the joint operation in July took place, many residents were being oppressed by militia activity in the area, Maj. Chris Norrie, the transition team's former chief, said.
Many houses were abandoned in what was once a white-collar area of the capital. It used to be home to many well-educated residents until violence broke out and forced hundreds to leave their homes.
The empty houses gave an opportunity to terrorists from outside the area to move in and set up shop, Capt. Peter Kilpatrick said. These empty homes were used as factories and staging areas for attacks on Iraqi security forces and American soldiers.
After the Iraqi battalion and soldiers from two companies from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor entered the area, several caches of homemade explosives and weapons were taken off the street and out of the hands of would-be terrorists responsible for planting deep-buried roadside bombs in the area.
These bombs, made from crude components, were used in attacks that killed soldiers from the battalion during the summer.
In more recent times, the streets remain quiet except for the clamor of steady business that's given new hope to people who have just started to come back to work without fear of harm.
Ahnam Padush has lived in the area for years. She held the same job at the same store for years, until violence and fear began preventing her from going to work or even allowing the store where she worked to open.
It's been two months since she's returned to her normal routine, she said. Two months of feeling just a little more normal.
"People are very happy now that the neighborhoods have gotten better," she said. "We feel safe enough to travel and come to work. We all just want life to go back to normal, and the past two months have been a good sign that life is allowing that to happen."
Maj. William Hickok, the current chief of the military transition team, much of the success goes to the Iraqi army for the great strides it has taken since the troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division arrived late in 2006.
Among other successes in the community were the allocations of micro grants to people interested in opening, re-opening or refurbishing their small businesses.
While the store that Padush works in didn't get any grant money, the customers keep coming in to buy the clothes, food and other necessities they need.
She admits she still has worries, but she said she hopes the neighborhood stays quiet thanks to work by security forces in the area.
The transition team, made up of troops from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, continues to work closely with its native counterparts even though the unit is due to redeploy back to their home station of Fort Hood, Texas, soon.
(Army Spc. Alexis Harrison is assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Public Affairs.)