News: Task Force Gold, GoI = partners for progress, peace in Baghdad
By Ray McNulty
926th Engineer Brigade
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Mutual respect, trust and understanding are what make partnerships successful, and commonly held goals are essential for strong bonds of partnership.
For the Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier of the 926th Engineer Brigade, it is respect, trust and mutual understanding that underlie the relationship that exists between the brigade's Task Force Gold and the representative of the Government of Iraq, who coordinates and oversees reconstruction project work in OE Gold-Sadr City.
In the five months since Task Force Gold was created by Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the commanding general of MND-B and the 4th Infantry Division, reconstruction projects in the OE Gold sector of Sadr City have preceded with record speed, said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, the 926th Eng. Bde. commander.
During this period, added Talley, Task Force Gold renovated 39 schools in 120 days and redeveloped seven public health clinics in addition to installing 175 solar powered lights to bring a sense of security and normalcy to the area.
"Task Force Gold promoted safety and security by rebuilding the People's Market and directing the rehabilitation of Baghdad's landmark Jamilla Market," said Talley.
"Countless parks, playing fields and athletic facilities and a memorable swimming pool were transformed for the youth of Sadr City."
Additionally, more than 24 micro-generators were installed, which brought electricity to thousands of residents. In fact, said Talley, the reconstruction progress in OE Gold stands as a model for the rest of Baghdad and Iraq.
"I couldn't be prouder of the work that Task Force Gold has done under the command of Col. Jared Olsen and with the critical support Col. John Hort and his 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, have provided," said Talley. "It has been a key element in building safety and security and restoring an atmosphere of normalcy for the residents of Sadr City."
The steady progression of OE Gold projects, explained Talley, began with rubbish cleanup and debris removal, which was followed by medical and humanitarian aid.
"Through it all, Task Force Gold scoped, assessed, evaluated and budgeted projects that resulted in the hiring of Iraqi contractors, who employed more than 10,000 local workers on projects with budgets totaling more than $42 million dollars.
"These projects would not have been possible were it not for the active support and cooperation of Dr. Abdul Samad Rahman Sultan, who is the minister of Displacement and Migration and the chairman of the GoI's Reconstruction Committee for Sadr City," said Talley. "Dr. Samad's enthusiastic support has been fundamental to the success of rebuilding the OE Gold sector of Sadr City.
"Dr. Samad has been a true friend of the residents of Sadr City as he has facilitated our work on behalf of the people of Baghdad. At every step, Dr. Samad has been the articulate champion for the projects and people of OE Gold and Sadr City. We should have such active support for our work in all other areas of the Government of Iraq."
Dr. Samad said his cooperation with coalition forces and Task Force Gold are motivated by a love to serve the people of Sadr City and Iraq.
"The people of OE Gold deserve the improvements that result from the work of Task Force Gold and the 926th Eng. Bde., said Dr. Samad. "In terms of safety and security, OE Gold shows the way forward. It is the model for what the GoI is doing north of OE Gold."
Dr. Samad said "OE Gold shows what can be accomplished through enlightened cooperation." The Soldiers of the 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., have proven themselves to be "good friends of Sadr City."
Talley and Dr. Samad said they both felt "great things" happen when coalition forces and the Government of Iraq agencies work together for the good of the people of Iraq.