CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq— Soldiers and local Iraqi business professionals gathered to celebrate and officially open the Bank of Baghdad, the Tallil branch, Oct. 6 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq.
Following the opening of the Victory Base Complex branch on Sept. 29, the bank in Tallil will service those in southern Iraq and help develop surrounding cities; it will also allow Iraqis to bank on an international level. Funding for the project came from private investors.
“Construction began in March, and to complete this project cost just under $200,000 between the construction, furniture, equipment and vault,” said 1st Lt. James Chang, deputy director of personal services and community activities with the 224th Special Troops Battalion, 224th Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Burbank, Calif., native.
Speakers at the ceremony included Col. Arthur Turnier, director of the 326th Financial Management Center, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, and a Crestline, Calif., native; Lt. Col. Nicole Balliet, COB Adder garrison commander with the 224th STB, and an Atascadero, Calif., native; and Layla Adnan Yehia, the executive director of the department of business development Bank of Baghdad, and an Al-Hilla, Iraq, native.
“What this bank means to the people of Iraq is a sound financial footing,” said Turnier. “What we [U.S. citizens] take for granted, normal banking activity, when we leave, will still be here.”
The Bank of Baghdad banks are the first of their kind in Iraq. “International banking is new here,” added Turnier. “Banks like this put Iraqi banking on an international level, which will allow international banking partners to invest in Iraq and further their development.”
The garrison command at COB Adder is responsible for all Iraqi Based Industrial Zone vendors, and has assisted many vendors in securing a presence on COB adder.
“The local IBIZ vendors will now have corporate banking ability,” said Balliet. “It was an honor and privilege to be part of history. This was the last of the IBIZ vendors that we have been working to secure their presence on COB Adder.”
There are many new and local advantages the bank provides to Iraqis, including electronic funds transfers, online banking, and off-site banking.
“For example, I can deposit money in Baghdad and withdraw it here [Tallil],” said Chang. “That is a huge step for them.”
After completing their speeches, Balliet and Yehia cut the ribbon blocking the door’s entrance, symbolizing the bank was officially open for business. Inside, the soldiers and Iraqi business professionals gathered to share lunch, drinks and a cake.
“This is a big step forward because this bank will be an enduring business,” said Chang. “Where most companies are here short term, this bank is here for the long term, and for Iraq.”
In her concluding remarks, Balliet said, “In the spirit of Operation New Dawn, we continue to build partnerships and encourage innovation with the Iraqi people.”