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Military

2nd ACR works with Al Kut leaders to improve city

ARCENT Release

Release Date: 5/18/2004

Story and photo by Capt. Sean Kirley 2nd ACR Regimental PAO

AL KUT, IRAQ (May 18, 2004) - The "War Eagles" of 1st Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, moved from Baghdad to Al Kut during the latter part of April.

During their initial assessment of the town, the War Eagles discovered a looted and bombed out Coalition Provisional Authority building.

Many of the city's bridges, much-needed structures in the town that are dominated by dams and reservoirs off the Euphrates River, were damaged or rendered unusable by Muqtada Al Sadr's Muqtada Militia.

Many of the other major structures in Kut had also been looted or desecrated.

Just six weeks later, all of those buildings mentioned have been fixed. Al Kut's streets are busy, but remain peaceful.

The threat of Muqtada's Militia returning has been nullified by Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, who patrol the streets with elements of 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment.

The citizens of Al Kut have responded well to the Coalition Soldiers' presence.

The War Eagles quickly added Civil Military Operations missions to their agenda in Al Kut. They are reaching out to the city's tribal, business and municipal leaders.

Soldiers are helping the community reopen its schools and clean its streets.

The Coalition has focused a lot of attention on schools in the area. Projects included cleaning and furnishing supplies, all making sure children of Al Kut can experience a comfortable learning environment.

"We did this in Sadr City for the past year. We can do it here too," said Maj. George Sarabia, who serves as the central Coalition's civil-military relations representative in Al Kut.

Lt. Col. Mark Calvert, the War Eagles' squadron commander, quickly established a positive relationship with the tribal leaders of Al Kut, meeting numerous times. Those meetings continue on a regular basis and discussions cover issues ranging from the city's security to ongoing community renovation projects.

Calvert also produced several television and radio announcements pledging assistance from Coalition Forces.

So far, the Coalition has spent close to $95,000 in materials and labor for the city of Al Kut.

"We make sure everyone gets a chance to bid on a project. No one tribe gets any favoritism over the other," said Capt. Kelvin Mote, one of the officers supervising several projects in Al Kut.

"It is important that Iraqis do the work. We try to contract Iraqi companies that hire local labor for each project."



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