by Pfc. Paul J. Harris
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
BAQUBAH, Iraq (Mar. 28, 2006) -- A groundbreaking governance workshop was conducted to teach legislative skills to the new Provincial Governance Council for Diyala Province March 28 in Baqubah.
The workshop was run by members of Company C, 445th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers.
The first of six weekly sessions focused on conducting effective meetings, business meeting etiquette and how to create an agenda. A lot of the council members have intellectual backgrounds like lawyers or professors but they are learning their roles in the government as they go along, said Capt. David Hickman, governance officer, Co. C, 445th CA Bn.
What we would like to see as a result of these classes is for the council to run the meetings better, Hickman said. We would like to see them do the things that a standard legislative body would do in the United States like keeping minutes of the meeting and focused on the items on the agenda without wandering off topic. Meetings of five hours in length right now are the norm, especially when the council deals with security issues.
The civil affairs team enlisted the help of one of their linguistics consultants, Khaled Alawamleh, who has a doctorate in public affairs from the United States, to teach the workshops to the Diyala council in their native tongue.
"After 40 years of a repressed regime this is the first time they have the chance to govern their own affairs," said Alawamleh. "A lot of council members have been elected for the first time and do not have a lot of experience, so there is a need for government training in the areas of public affairs."
The task of getting the council to act as one legislative body is not an easy one. There are still deep divisions within the council that is made up of Kurds, Shiite and Sunnis. To address these problems, Alawamleh discussed team building, diversity and conflict management with peaceful solutions for local issues.
As a homework assignment, Alawamleh asked the council to re-read the Provincial Charter so they can discuss aspects of the charter in the next session.
Upon exiting the workshop council members commented to Alawamleh that these workshops were one of the best things the Coalition Forces could do to aid in the rebuilding of local Iraqi government.
With new elections just six months away, the council was eager to learn new ways of governing as a whole that would benefit the constituents instead of personal issues.