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Iraqi Army grabs terrorists in Sadr City as renovations continue

By Spc. Ben Brody

SADR CITY, Iraq (Army News Service, Nov. 18, 2005.) -- Iraqi Army Soldiers raided the residences of suspected terrorists in Sadr City and detained 19 men Nov. 14.

Fifteen of the men are suspected members of a terrorist group responsible for murders and kidnappings in Baghdad.

The raids were planned and led by Iraqi soldiers.

“The Iraqi Army did a great job on this one—they got the targets quickly and quietly,” said Sgt. 1st Class Luis Molina, operations sergeant with 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.

In addition to the 15 suspects, three men were detained when Iraqi troops found body armor in their possession.

All the detainees are being processed by the Iraqi judicial system.

Local workers renovate Sadr City hospital

Along with numerous sewer, water, and electric projects, a hospital for women and children is being refurbished in Sadr City.

Since July 5, 2004, Parsons Delaware, Inc., has been working on Ibn Al Baladi Hospital (Arabic for “Son of My Town”), a facility in southern Sadr City primarily providing health care to women and children.

Patients previously suffered from unsanitary conditions and stifling temperatures due to lack of functioning environmental controls. Now, the temperature is cooling off thanks to new air handling systems, and infants and the elderly are less susceptible to the heat’s effects.

The renovation of the hospital, divided in four different zones, is taking place in four phases. In order to prevent any lapse of health care availability, the hospital staff compressed the facility and patient living space into three-quarters the space they previously used. Meanwhile, Parsons started work in Zone 1, refurbishing the walls, floors, ceilings, plumbing, wiring, and ductwork. As the workers complete each zone, the staff moves patients and equipment into the completed areas, allowing Parsons to move to the next area.

The $19.3 million project currently stands at 52 percent complete and is scheduled to finish in late February, 2006.

“They’ve completed Zone 1, and are really cranking on Zones 3 and 4,” said Jeremy Way, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project engineer.

In addition, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has planned to construct a new annex to the hospital to use as a blood laboratory. The contract includes provisions to purchase new medical equipment following the construction phase of the contract. Coalition Forces worked with the Ministry of

Health to ensure the people of Sadr City would receive exactly the facility they need.

Although this project will provide improved health care to the people of Sadr City, it also has a side benefit. Parsons has employed nearly 220 people at a time, providing a stabilizing effect in the surrounding community.

“The differences [between the finished and unfinished portions of the hospital] are night and day,” said Maj. Paul Ashcraft, a representative from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which is responsible for the area. “They’ve taken a hospital that’s been neglected for 30 years, and are turning it into a first-class facility.”

The renovation of Ibn Al Baladi Hospital is part of an overall effort to improve health care facilities in Baghdad. Five outpatient clinics being built across Sadr City will put competent care within much easier reach.

(Editor’s note: Spc. Ben Brody serves with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO.)

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