Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — As coalition forces and Iraqis work together to rebuild the country after years of corruption, neglect and terror, one of the key focal points to ensure a peaceful, prosperous future is the educational system.
Terrorist operations are often conducted by poor Iraqis, not because they subscribe to the ideology, but simply because terrorist organizations pay them very well if they can prove they have caused damage to coalition forces.
To that end, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) provided security for the secondary school in Al-Rasheed, Iraq, while the school underwent some needed renovation. The school re-opened Saturday, Dec. 23, to the evident joy of its 500 students, aged 12 to 15, after a month-long renovation.
Headmaster Jumaa Ja’asi Muhammad welcomed Battery Commander Capt. Blake Keil to the ribbon-cutting, as well as Isa, the Al-Rasheed mayor and several soldiers of the Iraqi Army as Soldiers guarded the area.
Muhammad explained that the school, in a mixed Sunni-Shia area, has no sectarian tensions despite those in the country at large.
“We don’t talk about tribes or religion,” he said. “The students are here just to go to school.”
The project was begun by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, explained Keil, a native of Londonderry, N.H., and the 2-10th took it over when the 101st redeployed to the United States.
“For the last three months we’ve provided security and acted as a liaison between the headmaster, city council, and the contractors. There have been no issues and no attacks.”
Al-Rasheed mayor Isa was pleased by the project’s completion.
“It was our dream to fix up the school, and now we have. Thank God the Americans helped us out. It’s not easy when you need to fix a school in this area.”
The students recited poetry in honor of the occasion in front of a small assembly of American and Iraqi soldiers and their peers.
The Americans then distributed backpacks, school supplies and T-shirts to the pupils.
“We thank you guys,” said student Malik Rahim Mes’out. “You have fixed our school, it’s wonderful.”
Ahmad Shakeir especially liked the new paint. “There’s color now. That’s very nice.”