By Sgt. Jason Stadel, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq - The Arab Jabour Governance Center officially opened Dec. 27 with a large ceremony on the grounds of the center. More than 250 people were in attendance.
The center will function similar to a city hall for Arab Jabour, south of Baghdad. It will be the headquarters for the Arab Jabour Governance Council and "concerned local citizens" groups. Local Iraqis will be able to bring infrastructure and political issues to Arab Jabour leaders at the center, U.S. officials explained.
Army Lt. Col. Kenneth Adgie, commander of 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said the governance center is a symbol of progress in security that has been made in Arab Jabour during the past six months.
"This is where people can get problems solved," Adgie said, adding that this also is a step forward in political progress in Arab Jabour.
Six months ago, Arab Jabour had almost no coalition presence, and al Qaeda in Iraq used the heavily Sunni community as a safe haven and imposed a strict Islamic law on residents. With the arrival of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the fifth and final surge brigade, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, was able to move into the area and push al-Qaida out.
The battalion also started the concerned local citizen movement in Arab Jabour, which has grown to more than 800 local Iraqis from the area. Members of a concerned local citizen group will provide security for the Arab Jabour Governance Center.
Adgie and his battalion began conducting offensive combat operations against al Qaeda in June. Local citizens began guarding the community's infrastructure about four months ago. "This is Iraqis working with Iraqis to improve the basic needs of their people," Adgie said.
Local Iraqis in attendance praised the opening of the center and the overall improved security in Arab Jabour. "Today is a great day for our region and for all of Baghdad," said Majid Hamad Yasien al Jabouri. "This is a great day for all of the Iraqi people."
Majid said he was happy to be part of the celebration at the governance center, but the best part of the day was seeing the people of Arab Jabour being free to live their lives without the over watch of a dictator or al Qaeda. "The real happiness is outside with the farmers working and the children going to school. This didn't happen before," Majid said.
The governance center has been refurbished with new furniture, computers with Internet access, and offices for Arab Jabour and concerned local citizen council member. A meeting room, kitchen, reception room and offices for area officials are also in the center.