Cablegate: Eprt Baghdad 2 at Year One; Success Stories

DE RUEHGB #1237/01 1121541
P 211541Z APR 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) This is a Baghdad 2 BCT E-PRT reporting cable drafted
by Team Leader Eric Whitaker.

2. (SBU) Summary: Over the past year, Baghdad 2 E-PRT has
undertaken a variety of activities in the areas of local
governance, community reconciliation, economic growth and
development, and essential social services as elements of the
broader U.S. counter-insurgency strategy. Working closely
with our U.S. Army brigade combat teams, the E-PRT has
achieved several measures of success, launched a number of
projects in numerous sectors of Iraqi society, and
established that this model of civil-military cooperation can
be very productive. Key to success was easy access to
programmatic funds through QRF, CERP among others. End

3. (SBU) Background: Founded in April 2007, the Baghdad 2
Embedded-Provincial Reconstruction Team (E-PRT), one of the
ten charter E-PRTs, covers the political districts of Karada,
Rusafa, and 9 Nissan. During its first year, the E-PRT
worked closely with Brigade Combat Teams from the 2nd
Infantry Division and, since January 2008, the 10th Mountain
Division. Embedded within the civil affairs component, the
E-PRT helped assess the operating environment, agreed on a
Joint Common Plan to guide activities, and developed a wide
range of local Iraqi contacts both within and outside the GOI
and its institutions. Most importantly, the E-PRT launched a
number of concrete activities organized in four key areas or
"lines of operation": local governance, economic growth and
development, essential social services, and community
reconciliation. These activities and projects can be seen as
elements of a broad counter-insurgency strategy designed to
restore normalcy at the level of the Iraqi family. This
report seeks to illustrate some of the team's principal
accomplishments, including those that used the Quick Response
Fund (QRF) program as leverage to achieve results.

--------------------------------------------- -
QRF: A Tool for Engagement and Revitalization
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) Despite only having access to QRF resources for the
past six months, the E-PRT has developed and implemented
seven grants totaling roughly $1.12 million as well as 71
micro-purchases also amounting to approximately $1.12
million. These projects sought to address areas not covered
by CERP, USAID, or other funding sources or ongoing programs.
Among the E-PRT's criteria for projects were sustainability,
value for funds invested, and impact. For each project,
E-PRT members met with local vendors, contractors, and other
Iraqi parties to ensure the project addressed unmet needs in
an economical manner.

A. (SBU) Grants ) the seven grants cover: a center for
children with Down's Syndrome, a legal services referral
center, specialized training in heavy equipment operation and
generator repair for public works employees, renovation of
the Baghdad Al-Jadida Market, the Al-Bashaer program of
grants and loans administered through two of the district
council halls, job skills training for vulnerable
populations, and post-trauma programming for children in
areas of conflict.

B. (SBU) Micro-Purchases ) the 71 projects covered several
sectors, including public health, humanitarian assistance,
adult literacy courses, school supplies and facility
renovations, community reconciliation, conflict mitigation
workshops, environmental sanitation, agriculture, economic
growth and development, youth and sports, public works
capacity development, district council hall standardization,
NGO capacity building, trade show participation, and business
skills development courses.

Success Stories

5. (SBU) Some of the E-PRT's success stories are as follows:

A. (SBU) Agriculture ) The E-PRT formed an agricultural
cooperative from rural sheikhs and farmers residing along the
Diyala and Tigris Rivers in 9 Nissan and Zafaraniya, and
assisted them in obtaining mini-greenhouse plastic sheeting
for vegetable growing and winter seed to increase
agricultural incomes. Combined with graveled mud roads,
these QRF-supported measures have assisted them in increasing
productivity and in getting more farm produce to market.

B. (SBU) Industry ) The E-PRT assessed dozens of industries
in major manufacturing areas of 9 Nissan and Zafaraniya to
assist them in developing markets for their products. One
success is the National Chemical and Plastic Industries,

BAGHDAD 00001237 002 OF 003

which KBR awarded its first state-owned enterprise contract
on March 1, 2008, for plastic bags. This pilot sale is
expected to lead to further sales in the areas of dinnerware
and trays. The E-PRT also targeted the State Company for
Vegetable Oil for potential sales to KBR for liquid laundry

C. (SBU) Small Business Development ) The E-PRT sponsored
the training of 278 individuals, including 52 women, in the
Small Business Development Center (SBDC) training programs.
The SBDC is designed to enhance community business
relationships and to assist those who seek to open, re-open,
or expand a small business by training them in business plan
formation, marketing, inventory, basic accounting, and using
a computer for budgeting.

D. (SBU) Sewing Center - with QRF, the E-PRT facilitated the
opening of a women's sewing center in February 2008 in the
Baghdad Al-Jadida, 9 Nissan district. The sewing center is
managed by an Iraqi women's NGO in a poor area with many
widows and single parents requiring job skills necessary to
support their families. The goal is to train classes of 15
women for four to six weeks on the use of sewing machines
until they can pass proficiency tests, and enable them to
start their own small businesses or work with local

E. (SBU) Commerce ) With QRF, the E-PRT sponsored the
participation of eight local businesses in the November 2007
Kurdistan International Trade Show in Sulaymaniya, which
resulted in the signing of 12 business contracts to date.
Thereafter, it sponsored the participation of 25 firms ) 22
state-owned enterprises and 3 private firms ) in the
February 2008 Business-2-Business Trade Show in Baghdad. The
event, which adopted the E-PRT's economics motto, "Buy
Iraqi," garnered extensive media coverage, VIP visits, and
more than 9,000 attendees, provided local firms with business
contacts and enabled them to demonstrate their goods and
services to a broad community. The event also included a
women's association booth, which marketed handicrafts and
other items produced by women from within our community
seeking income generation opportunities.

F. (SBU) Education ) Due to the conflict and years of
inattention to education, Baghdad's literacy rate has
declined significantly. Realizing that employees need basic
Arabic reading and writing skills to seek employment, the
E-PRT assisted in establishing an adult literacy program in
mid-2007. The program involved 700 students attending class
five evenings a week for six months in six elementary schools
in the 9 Nissan district, with four classes for men and three
for women. The Ministry of Education provides unemployed
instructors to teach the classes. The program is designed to
prepare students for follow-on training at vocational and
technical training schools.

G. (SBU) Community Reconciliation ) The E-PRT works with
three districts, each with substantial Christian, Sunni, and
Shia populations. Due to the five-year conflict, the social
fabric of Baghdad has been torn. We engage in ongoing
dialogue with Sunni and Shia political party representatives,
local government officials, Iraqi Security Forces officers,
and other members of civil society to rebuild trust in the
community through reconciliation. The E-PRT has also
supported the rehabilitation of a "sheikh hall," where
traditional leaders meet and confer to manage local

(SBU) The E-PRT also used QRF to support a series of
community reconciliation events during Ramadan in October
2007, wherein Sunni mosques held open-house iftars. The
events involved non-governmental organizations organizing
events with signs and banners, a theme and agenda, speakers
and a program, and an iftar meal. Sunni community leaders
invited Christians and Shia to each event, seeking to rebuild
trust and a spirit of brotherhood within the community,
helping catalyze our reconciliation objective.

(SBU) Additional momentum in community reconciliation arises
from a series of conflict mitigation workshops being
implemented by the U.S. Institute of Peace. Each district
has three, three-day workshops, with iterations focusing on
different target groups ) district council members, civil
society officials, and opinion shapers. While the target
number was for 270 persons to be trained in conflict
mitigation, the courses grew and well over 300 people
attended these programs.

H. (SBU) Health - The E-PRT gained acceptance for a QRF
grant to develop a first-ever rehabilitation center for young
children with Down's syndrome. The program will involve
training in basic life skills, leading up to helping them to

BAGHDAD 00001237 003 OF 003

enter the Iraqi educational system. Dealing with children
who have typically been kept in seclusion, the program's goal
is to develop abilities and social skills to each child's
maximum capacity.

I. (SBU) Social/Cultural - The E-PRT assisted the
Palestinian community by placing traffic barriers at key
points near its compound, installing a security wall,
supplying a nearby pharmacy, rehabilitating a clinic,
providing emergency water supplies, supporting a trash
removal program, forming a Community Action Group to advocate
for local issues by building consensus and prioritizing
needs. These have significantly improved the quality of life
for the community, which does not have the benefit of Iraqi
citizenship or representation in a neighborhood council,
despite many of its more than 5,000 residents living there
since settlement waves in 1948 and 1967.

(SBU) Widows and Orphans - In February 2008, the E-PRT used
QRF to support a six-day conference to address issues of
widows, orphans, divorces, and victims of terrorism. The
conference involved 40 widows participating in an event
facilitated by local NGO "Mariam." Participants shared their
experiences and built relationships with others with similar
life stories.

J. (SBU) Water - Potable water shortages are a serious
problem in 9 Nissan, where breakouts of acute diarrheal
diseases occurred in the late summer of 2007. The E-PRT
identified an underutilized water treatment plant at the
National Chemical and Plastic Industries facility, and worked
to form a linkage between it and Baghdad city hall so that
the excess water supply could be introduced into the
municipal water system.

K. (SBU) Electricity - The E-PRT worked with battalion and
local government officials to establish a plan and award a
contract for micro-generator system installation at the
Kamaliya Industrial Park in 9 Nissan political district to
furnish bulk power to local industries.

L. (SBU) Governance - The E-PRT is challenged in developing
working partnerships with three political districts: Karada,
Rusafa, and 9 Nissan. At the time of the arrival of the
E-PRT, a ban against Coalition Forces presence at district
council meetings was in effect in 9 Nissan. The E-PRT
negotiated entry, and was able to initiate a number of
projects to improve local conditions.

-- (SBU) District Hall Standardization - To ensure adequate
local governance facilities, the E-PRT worked with the
Baghdad PRT and the Brigade to standardize the three district
council halls. This included structural integrity of the
buildings, functioning utilities, and offices equipped to
carry out the basic functions of local government.

-- (SBU) Intergovernmental Relations - Recognizing that
district councils represent the legislative branch of
government and need balancing by the executive branch, the
E-PRT worked to develop relationships between them and the
four service districts. By building bridges between these
branches of government, we have gained the participation of
public works officials in the essential services committees
of the district councils.

-- (SBU) Specialized Public Works Training - The E-PRT
organized the participation of public works officials from
across the city in a specialized training program for heavy
equipment operation and generator repair in Erbil. This
unique program permitted them to develop an increased
capacity for carrying out public works projects, becoming
less dependent upon outside contractors.


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