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Stateside: Iraq Reconstruction Update - Nov 13 '07

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Provincial Reconstruction Teams Update, November 13, 2007

At this week's State Department live satellite link with Baghdad, the Army’s Colonel Funk and State’s Thomas F. Burke gave an update of progress in the north and western outskirts of Baghdad. Burke’s reconstruction team is embedded with the 1st “Iron Horse” Brigade Combat Team, which Funk commands. The bulk of the area is rural, given over to both livestock and crop agriculture, but includes some towns and two small cities.

Burke praised team members who have volunteered from the active Army Reserve, National Guard, US Navy and USAID, saying many “have taken on jobs that they were not initially assigned for.” In response to a later question about the negative response some State Department employees have had to being asked to assist the effort in Iraq, he said “there are many officers who are coming forward to take these challenging assignments, recognizing that Iraq has evolved into the United States' number one goal overseas and that's to establish political stability.” He suggested that foreign officers who signed an oath to serve their country but did not want to be posted overseas should look elsewhere for a job.

Colonel Funk reported that his brigade works with three Iraqi Army brigades, and that they have” hired thousands in public works initiatives to provide the workforce needed to keep the essential services running and to invest in the local economy and to take away the extremist option of using money as an incentive to attack the Government of Iraq and our soldiers.” The ultimate goal is to have these programs funded by the local and national government of Iraq as an investment in the country’s future.

Asked whether the micro-grants he spoke of making to small businesses—such as sales of cell-phones, which could be used in IEDs-- might be “enabling the bad elements”, Funk replied that “Everything is about balance… the grants in-kind, though, are more about getting people the tools they need to succeed in business, no matter what kind of business they might have.”

USAIDs September report on PRTs in Iraq is here:

http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDACK286.pdf

(Warning: it’s a graphics-heavy 2.5MB download.)

The transcript of yesterday morning’s videoconference at the State Department is here:

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/nov/95038.htm

--ENDS—

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