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On the Ground: U.S. Forces Build Better Quality of Life in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2009 – Construction efforts took center stage in Mosul, Iraq, recently as U.S. soldiers built a new combat outpost and took on a new renovation mission, military officials reported.

Soldiers of the 643rd Engineer Company are nearing completion of Combat Outpost India in Iraq’s northern province of Ninevah. They started the project in mid-June.

The outpost is slated to be used as a training site for local Iraqi security forces, said Army Capt. Joshua A. Long, technical headquarters officer in charge for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 130th Engineer Brigade.

The outpost also will make areas north of Mosul more accessible to reconstruction teams working in the area, Long said.

"This is a major construction project that will significantly increase U.S. force's ability to train with Iraqis and will facilitate transition to the [Iraqi government]," he said.

Advisory teams from 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, deployed from Ft. Hood, Texas, will live on the outpost.

Once complete, the outpost will include multiple housing structures, and dining, laundry, and a Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility.

"This will be a nice living area for the soldiers," said Army 1st Lt. Emily Hannenberg, the company’s 1st platoon leader. “We've put a lot of pride and hard work in this project and hope it will help them accomplish their mission.”

Meanwhile, the 130th Engineer Brigade assumed responsibility of Mosul's reconstruction efforts from the 18th Engineer Brigade on July 15 during a transfer-of-authority ceremony on Contingency Operating Station Marez in Mosul.

The "Sapper" brigade will focus on reconstruction projects aimed at helping people in Ninevah province. The soldiers will provide essential services to the local population and manage route-clearance operations for the 25th Infantry Division.

"It is an honor and a privilege to help our brother and sister Iraqis rebuild their nation," said Army Lt. Col. Fabian E. Mendoza Jr., brigade commander.

During their 15-month deployment, the soldiers moved from Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit to Forward Operating Base Warrior in Kirkuk. They later moved to Marez, where they were tasked with operating the Mosul reconstruction cell.

The brigade participated in key-leader engagements, provided technical assessments, conducted site visits and tracked millions of dollars worth of construction projects.

The soldiers also worked with Mosul city leaders to develop sustainable support for essential services and partnered with several Iraqi engineer regiments to improve their engineering and information-operations capabilities.

The soldiers will return home to Heidelberg, Germany.

"The soldiers, officers and noncommissioned officers of the 18th have done a great job here and are anxious to get home," said Army Col. Matthew Russell, brigade commander. "We've conducted uncharacteristic lines of operations that a normal engineer brigade doesn't do, but we took it on.”

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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