News: Making a difference in Dhi Qar Province
Story by: Capt. Tony Massari
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – The “Mad Dog” Platoon, Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division experiences the reconstruction of Iraq first hand as they work with the Dhi Qar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Attached to 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div, the platoon is currently supervising the construction and implementation of 20 civil projects, including schools, courthouses, fish hatcheries, and dairy factories.
Besides overseeing the construction of the projects, the platoon works through the Dhi Qar PRT, as it helps Iraqis develop a plan to maximize the benefits of each project completed.
"Working on the Provincial Reconstruction Team is a job that I never imagined I would have as a field artillery officer. Our platoon works very hard in conjunction with the Iraqi people to help sustain and improve the Iraqi economy and quality of life," said 2nd Lt. Dustin Kuhlman, of Norwalk, Ohio, platoon leader, Battery B, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Reg.
The Dhi Qar PRT makes recommendations for projects after they receive specific requests from the Provincial government. The PRT includes experts in agriculture, rule of law and engineering from the United States, Italy, Great Britain and Iraq.
“This extraordinary blend of nationalities and talents yields tremendous results. It’s a great way to get out into the community and know you’re making a difference,” said Kuhlman.
The PRT also has a team of bilingual bicultural advisors, who are experts in engineering and agriculture. The BBA's consist of U.S. and Australian citizens that were born in Iraq and speak both English and Arabic.
"The Bilingual Bicultural Advisors that we work hand in hand with on the projects really contribute to the understanding of the Iraqi people and the technical knowledge required in creating successful projects,” said Staff Sgt. Curtis Fuller, of Richmond, Calif., platoon sergeant, Battery B, 3rd Bn., 29th FA Reg.
The members of the platoon get to experience projects being built from the ground up and visit each project at least once a month to report on the progress, said Kuhlman.
"After four deployments to Iraq, all in different duty positions, I am finally able to work with the Iraqi people to assist in rebuilding their country and see the difference," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Sargent, of Fountain, Colo., section chief and project purchasing officer.