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News :: Environment : Politics
U.S., Iraqis, Clean Up Neighborhood for Hajj
01 Feb 2006
U.S., Iraqi Police joint effort restores electricity, removes trash, and establishes trust.
KIRKUK, Iraq, Jan. 25, 2006 — On many days in this city, a city marred by an ethnic divide and an infestation of insurgents, blood spilling onto the streets denotes a setback for prosperity of the people and safety of coalition forces. But, on Jan. 10, that blood wasn’t the blood of innocent citizens or coalition casualties. It was the blood of a cow being sacrificed in preparation for a feast.

Jan. 10, was the first day of Hajj, an Iraqi holiday spanning four days. The Iraqis feasted in their homes warmed by electricity, their kids played in unpolluted streets, and they do it trusted that local police would protect them. The people weren’t expecting as much during their holiday.

Three days before, soldiers from the 451st Civil Affairs Battalion mounted their armored humvees and, in a joint effort with the Iraqi police, visited this neighborhood. The neighborhood, found in a sector of Kirkuk reported as a problem area, is a place where public sentiment for coalition forces was dangerously low and attacks occurred frequently.

When they arrived, they found a derelict cityscape, grim and smothered in trash. The people were reluctant to exit their homes and businesses to interact with the soldiers. An elderly man approached and began shouting that he was upset.

Staff Sgt. Ignacio A. Betancourt, a civil affairs team sergeant with the 451st, was one of the soldiers there to hear his complaints.

“The trash, the electricity, and no police,” Betancourt explained. “The people had three complaints when we first visited the area.”

Betancourt said the Iraqi police immediately contacted the Joint Command Center, a centralized communications hub for Iraqi security forces, and within 20 minutes a truck was sent out to fix the electricity.

“[The Iraqi police] got the electricity fixed on the spot before we left,” Betancourt said. “So, the people were happy.”

Getting the electricity fixed would only be the first step in helping this community. Soldiers from the 451st and Iraqi police returned the following two days and focused on the other two complaints.

Betancourt recalled how the people’s demeanor had shifted when they arrived in the neighborhood on the second day.


“On the first visit, the Iraqi police got the electricity turned on for them,” Betancourt said. “So the people said, ‘wow, these guys are out here actually taking care of us’. So, they started feeling comfortable with them.”

The next issue that needed to be taken care of was the excessive trash in the streets that locals explained was over six months worth of build up. Coordinating with the Department of Sanitation, Betancourt said the Iraqi police enlisted five trucks, a bulldozer and ten workers to remove the trash.

The Iraqi police were involved in the first two visits, but on the third visit they would focus on interacting with the people.

“The third visit the people realized the Iraqi police really meant business,” Betancourt said.

The Iraqi police spent time talking with the locals and handing out toys and candy to the children in the neighborhood. An Iraqi police colonel was among the police that visited and talked with the people.

“The colonel started talking with the people, letting them know the police are there to help,” Betancourt said. “By today’s visit, people started coming out and thanking us. But at the same time, we told them, ‘it wasn’t us.’ It was the Iraqi police.

"[Locals] were actually out there shaking hands with the Iraqi police, patting them on the back and letting them know they were happy to see them there spending time with the people." U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ignacio A. Betancourt

Thanks to the Iraqi police and the 451st Civil Affairs Detachment, the people in this neighborhood can spend their days of Hajj visiting and relaxing with each other instead of worrying about their children being cold or waist deep in filth.

Betancourt said unlike other foreign countries, where civil affairs might be building schools or digging wells to promote a community, in Iraq there is something different that needs to be built. It’s a trust between a community and its protectors; something you can’t touch, but can definitely see.

“Coalition forces are not going to be in Iraq forever,” Betancourt said. “If a trust is not built between the Iraqi police and the local populace, we’re basically defeating ourselves. However, if we start letting the Iraqi police build a relationship with the local populace, it is helping us pull out of the country eventually and feel comfortable knowing the Iraqi police and Iraqi people are working with each other.”
KIRKUK, Iraq, Jan. 25, 2006 — On many days in this city, a city marred by an ethnic divide and an infestation of insurgents, blood spilling onto the streets denotes a setback for prosperity of the people and safety of coalition forces. But, on Jan. 10, that blood wasn’t the blood of innocent citizens or coalition casualties. It was the blood of a cow being sacrificed in preparation for a feast.

Jan. 10, was the first day of Hajj, an Iraqi holiday spanning four days. The Iraqis feasted in their homes warmed by electricity, their kids played in unpolluted streets, and they do it trusted that local police would protect them. The people weren’t expecting as much during their holiday.

Three days before, soldiers from the 451st Civil Affairs Battalion mounted their armored humvees and, in a joint effort with the Iraqi police, visited this neighborhood. The neighborhood, found in a sector of Kirkuk reported as a problem area, is a place where public sentiment for coalition forces was dangerously low and attacks occurred frequently.

When they arrived, they found a derelict cityscape, grim and smothered in trash. The people were reluctant to exit their homes and businesses to interact with the soldiers. An elderly man approached and began shouting that he was upset.

Staff Sgt. Ignacio A. Betancourt, a civil affairs team sergeant with the 451st, was one of the soldiers there to hear his complaints.

“The trash, the electricity, and no police,” Betancourt explained. “The people had three complaints when we first visited the area.”

Betancourt said the Iraqi police immediately contacted the Joint Command Center, a centralized communications hub for Iraqi security forces, and within 20 minutes a truck was sent out to fix the electricity.

“[The Iraqi police] got the electricity fixed on the spot before we left,” Betancourt said. “So, the people were happy.”

Getting the electricity fixed would only be the first step in helping this community. Soldiers from the 451st and Iraqi police returned the following two days and focused on the other two complaints.

Betancourt recalled how the people’s demeanor had shifted when they arrived in the neighborhood on the second day.


“On the first visit, the Iraqi police got the electricity turned on for them,” Betancourt said. “So the people said, ‘wow, these guys are out here actually taking care of us’. So, they started feeling comfortable with them.”

The next issue that needed to be taken care of was the excessive trash in the streets that locals explained was over six months worth of build up. Coordinating with the Department of Sanitation, Betancourt said the Iraqi police enlisted five trucks, a bulldozer and ten workers to remove the trash.

The Iraqi police were involved in the first two visits, but on the third visit they would focus on interacting with the people.

“The third visit the people realized the Iraqi police really meant business,” Betancourt said.

The Iraqi police spent time talking with the locals and handing out toys and candy to the children in the neighborhood. An Iraqi police colonel was among the police that visited and talked with the people.

“The colonel started talking with the people, letting them know the police are there to help,” Betancourt said. “By today’s visit, people started coming out and thanking us. But at the same time, we told them, ‘it wasn’t us.’ It was the Iraqi police.

"[Locals] were actually out there shaking hands with the Iraqi police, patting them on the back and letting them know they were happy to see them there spending time with the people."

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ignacio A. Betancourt

“[Locals] were actually out there shaking hands with the Iraqi police, patting them on the back and letting them know they were happy to see them there spending time with the people.”

Thanks to the Iraqi police and the 451st Civil Affairs Detachment, the people in this neighborhood can spend their days of Hajj visiting and relaxing with each other instead of worrying about their children being cold or waist deep in filth.

Betancourt said unlike other foreign countries, where civil affairs might be building schools or digging wells to promote a community, in Iraq there is something different that needs to be built. It’s a trust between a community and its protectors; something you can’t touch, but can definitely see.

“Coalition forces are not going to be in Iraq forever,” Betancourt said. “If a trust is not built between the Iraqi police and the local populace, we’re basically defeating ourselves. However, if we start letting the Iraqi police build a relationship with the local populace, it is helping us pull out of the country eventually and feel comfortable knowing the Iraqi police and Iraqi people are working with each other.”

Hat tip to U.S. Army Spc. Michael Pfaff for his work on this story.

This work is in the public domain

Comments

Re: U.S., Iraqis, Clean Up Neighborhood for Hajj
01 Feb 2006
For some reason, that reminded me of the attack on Fallujah. the media propagandists were showcasing how Coalition forces were paying little kids to clean up the mess made by the coalition's attack. You know: broken glass, twisted metal, unexploded ordinance, decaying diseased body parts, etc. Would you let your kids work in such a dangerous environment to get paid $4 for a day's work? Shit NO! And the media was trumpeting the clean up program as creating good will. Shit, how desparate could the invasion have made iraqis if that was seen as creating good will? But since then, any good will activities have been a farce to me. Band aids will not help a broken back. Even if Bush were to pay for the good will projects out of his own pocket, I still wouldn't see it as anything but what it really is.
Re: U.S., Iraqis, Clean Up Neighborhood for Hajj
01 Feb 2006
The Hajj....a good time to test the Neutrron Bomb and make sure it's operational.
The kaaba is already a great tourist attraction. This would open it up for Buddhist and Hindu torusits too, and there wouldn't be any worry about the massacres (tramplings, stampedes and other expressions of religion)when the faithful exercised their Satanic rite
Please Cite Your Sources!!
01 Feb 2006
This article came from the US Dpt. of Defense propaganda machine:

http://www.defendamerica.mil/articles/jan2006/a012506ms2.html

Alden, darlin', you gotta start reading unbiased media
Re: U.S., Iraqis, Clean Up Neighborhood for Hajj
01 Feb 2006
There is no such thing as an unbiased media source. Everyone has an adjenda, get your news from multiple sources and make up your own mind.
Re: U.S., Iraqis, Clean Up Neighborhood for Hajj
01 Feb 2006
there is no such thing as unbiased media and I do read defencelink sites and others, but htere is such a thing as plagerism (which this is as you did't credit it), and this site also has a specific place for discussing stories in other press.