Under the direction of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, commander, 926th Engineer Brigade, Multi-National Divisionâ€“Baghdad, the last ten months brought significant engineering progress to Baghdad, specifically in Sadr City.
The creation of Task Force Gold and Gold Spike provided reconstruction projects aimed at employing the people of Baghdad and improving essential services.
â€œWe bring employment back into the community,â€ said Master Sgt. Tracy Jackson, TF Gold Spikeâ€™s operations non-commissioned officer in charge. â€œAnd keep the projects equal on both sides; Sunni and Shia.â€
The 926th Eng. Bde. is in the process of handing this reconstruction mission over to the incoming 225th Engineer Brigade, under the command of Col. Owen Monconduit, of Pineville, La.
Since arriving in Baghdad just over a week ago, the Col. Monconduit has toured construction projects throughout Baghdad with Col. Jared Olsen, TF Goldâ€™s commander.
â€œThe projects are impressive,â€ said Monconduit. â€œThey were of good quality and very professional. The 225th Eng. Bde. will maintain work on a continuum of the same level of quality that has a direct impact on the local economy.â€
Formed in September, 2008, TF Gold acted as a catalyst towards the successful reduction of violence in Sadr City, after achieving similar results in the Rusafa district of Baghdad. Jackson said the 926th engineers assembled a team to work closely with the local government and Iraqi contractors to enhance the quality.
Monconduit explained his Louisiana-based engineers will continue to build relationships in the community and with Iraqi leaders.
â€œWe will work in partnership with the government of Iraq and provide a â€˜can-doâ€™, positive environment, a safe environment, that the community can self-sustain and really build themselves. Itâ€™s in the capacity of the community to provide that work.â€
The al Fadhel district of Rusafa, once filled with standing pools of raw sewage and piles of trash to walk, now have cleared alley ways and streets, all signs of progress in the area. Freshly painted columns lining the main streets and areas slotted for solar lights are additional projects the commanders surveyed.
â€œSome of the main projects include trash, sewage, sidewalk repair, solar light installation and column repair,â€ said Staff Sgt. Christopher Rogers, pay agent for TF Gold Spike.
In Jamilla Market, the economic hub of Sadr City, delivery trucks lined the busy streets while the interior was packed with shoppers and goods for sale on the newly paved streets and sidewalks, a sign of the revitalization of the area that has improved dramatically over the last year.
“The combination of U.S. and Iraqi funds, coupled with the hard work of local Iraqis and coalition forces, have positively impacted the essential services and public infrastructure in both the Sadr City and Rusafa sectors of Baghdad,â€ Olsen. â€œThese positive impacts contribute to sustained security and create a sense of hope for the citizens in these areas of Baghdad.”
By Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jennifer Keefer
926th Engineer Brigade Public Affairs Office