New beginnings, promising future for Iraqi citizens

11th Public Affairs Detachment
Story by Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson

Date: 08.23.2008
Posted: 08.23.2008 04:48
News ID: 22788
New Beginnings, Promising Future for Iraqi Citizens

By Kyle Richardson
11th Public Affairs Detachment

MOSUL, Iraq - The rise of a new sun shines upon a familiar scene in the war-ridden city of Mosul. The convoy through town is rough because of the pitted roads that were once laden with improvised explosive devices. Shoppers crowd the sidewalks as vendors sell their goods out of tattered storefronts.

Long ago, Mosul was known for its art and theatrical productions, said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Anderstrom, linguist, assigned to Company C., 415th Civil Affairs Battalion. Today, Mosul is remembered by the devastation and destruction left by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

Up until the last several months, the city of Mosul contained one of Iraq's highest concentrations of insurgents. After several successful operations like Operation Lion's Roar and Operation Eagle Roar VII, the insurgents started to flee Mosul.

With the increased security throughout the city, the 415th CA, based out of Kalamazoo, Mich., can sit with city official and local leaders to plan reconstruction efforts.

"Once security is established in Mosul economic growth can develop; civil society can develop," said Anderstrom of Mishawaka, Ind."

For economic growth to take place a new base must be reestablished said Maj. Donald Vaha, civil affairs team chief, assigned to the 415th CA.

"The Middle East, in general, is going through a huge population boom," said Vaha from Kalamazoo, Mich. "So, there is a vast majority of their population that is under the age of 20. In terms, trying to engage those young people and get them into positive activities will give them a positive outlet," he said. "Hopefully, by engaging the younger people in those neighborhoods it will build a stronger bond to the community."

"You want to engage the youth to try to minimize the influence of parties that are trying to take advantage of them," said Vaha.

The 415th Civil Affairs Battalion work with the local Iraqis to help solve community issues, sometimes even national issues.

"It's more about helping a nation help itself," said Vaha.

"The thing about the U.S. Army is that we are over here seven months, eight months, a maximum of 15 months at a time," said Anderstrom. "These people, these organizations that we're developing will be here the rest of their lives. If we can influence that piece of the puzzle, we've implemented change for the entire city province; possibly the entire nation," he continued. "So, that change is life-long if we can implement that. It doesn't matter if we leave in 15 months as a unit. It doesn't matter who comes in next. If we can implement that change at the grass roots level, civil leadership will last well past the time we leave here," Anderstrom concluded.