Friday, March 03, 2006

Council Discusses the Future of Rawah

Capt. Matt Eberhart and his interpreter meet with council leaders in Rawah to discuss establishing a safer and more prosperous town.
(photo by Spc. Richard Vogt, 138th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Feb. 26, 2006.)
While Americans at home continue to bemoan the long slog by day, week, month, etc; the people of Rawah, Iraq are turning their eyes toward more important issues of the day. They were slowly coming to the the realization that a new form of government may indeed be preferable, that form of government being democracy.

The USA Military gave them praise for their participation in the December 15, 2005 elections. Since then, they have been finding large caches and large weapons. The Iraqis in this area are also moving forward from a tribal form of government.
Rawah is considered a key military area, regarding Iraq’s security. It is on the banks of the Euphrates river about 70 kilometers from the Syrian border.
There is a counsil of 12 members, but they wait for 6 of the (older?) members to appear in this war-torn building. They will be discussing what needs to be done to fight terrorim, and also what can the Coalition do to keep them safe.
“I think you have forces,” Eberhart replied. “You have a whole town and its eyes and ears. You and this council are the most powerful men in Rawah, more powerful than me. Success or failure against terrorism depends on the men in this room. As long as I’m here, we will do the best we can to stop terrorists and treat the citizens of Rawah with dignity and respect.”
This is a very moving article written by Spc. Richard Vogt--138th Military Public Affairs Detachment. Thank you, everyone, for your service. It is much appreciated and you are warmly thought of in our prayers.

Update: Due to the fact that you may not have access to the site, I have been given permission to reprint the article written by Spc. Richard Vogt. Here it is.

Story by Spc. Richard Vogt
138th Military Public Affairs Detachment

RAWAH, Iraq (Feb. 26, 2006) -- Some Iraqi towns and cities are moving forward with democracy quickly while other towns are only beginning to explore this new form of government.

Rawah is one such town taking the first steps toward forming a representative, local government. Local U.S. military commanders praised Rawah locals on their participation in the December 15th National elections, and are optimistic about the growth of local government.

“There’s no government except for the tribal system,” said Capt. Matt Eberhart commander, Troop A, 4th Battalion, 14th Cavalry. “But a retired general has volunteered to be the police chief, and the council has suggested that Sheik Nourry be the governor.

Rawah is considered a key military area, regarding Iraq’s security. It is on the banks of the Euphrates river about 70 kilometers from the Syrian border.

The weapons caches and IED’s found here have been large. On one occasion, Soldiers found an entire connex buried in the desert, filled with bombs, bullets, and weapons. Since the roads are not paved, anti-Iraqi forces bury large IEDs in the roads. There are no Iraqi police in the area yet.

Eberhart and his team are visiting Rawah’s 12-member council to talk about important issues facing the town. With them is Staff Sgt. Tim Evans, Company A, 401st Civil Affairs. He came to talk to the council about more possible future civil affairs projects.

The government building where the council meeting was held showed signs of insurgent attacks. There was a hole in the wall where a rocket had pierced it and other signs of rocket and mortar impacts.

“What I hear in these meetings is the same thing I hear on the street. They tell us what the Coalition Forces can do better,” Eberhart said.

Earlier in the day, he said that the council suggested that Sheik Nour Assad become the governor since no one else was interested in running.

Evans stated that there are four projects ongoing. A new bank is being built, along with a post office and a courthouse. There is also a trash collection project being developed. Evans said that a fifth project, a water treatment unit, is in the works. He came to the meeting to talk about building a phone center because terrorists came in and cut the phone lines in December. Recently, a woman died from complications during childbirth because she had no way of calling for an ambulance.

The meeting began when six men, dressed in traditional Iraqi clothes, entered. They walked in and shook hands with Eberhart and his team. Eberhart confronted the council about an IED that was found in a school.

“I don’t understand why no one reported this,” he said.

“Terrorists choose a good time, a time when no one can see them, when no one is watching,” Sheik Nourry said. “Terrorist groups are coming from outside of Rawah.”

Nourry explained to Eberhart that he was powerless to do anything. He said that he did not have forces to command like Eberhart.

“I think you have forces,” Eberhart replied. “You have a whole town and its eyes and ears. You and this council are the most powerful men in Rawah, more powerful than me. Success or failure against terrorism depends on the men in this room. As long as I’m here, we will do the best we can to stop terrorists and treat the citizens of Rawah with dignity and respect.”

“We’d like to start new projects,” Evans said. “The phone center is the most important thing in our opinion.” He also told them that he noticed that the fire station was also in need of repair. “That’s another thing we’ve seen that will benefit the city of Rawah.” This prompted a lot of discussion by the council.

The meeting ended with an agreement that Coalition forces would continue working closely with the council members and the citizens of Rawah to work toward their goal of making Rawah a safe and prosperous town.
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