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Iraqi Security Forces travel to DC, discuss infrastructure management

Feb 22, 2011

By Sgt. Eunice Alicea Valentin

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Feb. 2, 2011) -- United States Forces-Iraq advisors work closely with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense's Military Public Works and the Ministry of Interior's Infrastructure Department sharing techniques for planning, budgeting and executing resources to sustain Iraqi Security Forces' infrastructure.

Looking to build upon this relationship a joint team of engineers, from Iraq's Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, traveled to the United States in late January, to meet with the U.S. deputy undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment in Washington. They were introduced to proven installation-management concepts and techniques, and attended forums focusing on the importance of standardizing real property inventory, projecting future maintenance requirements, and ways to prioritize scarce resources.

"We are in a unique role, helping [the Iraqi MoD and MoI] stand up their capabilities to maintain their facilities and build a strategic long-range plan to sustain," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gary Lund, United States Forces-Iraq's Foreign Military Sales Infrastructure Team chief with Iraq Security and Assistance Mission.

ISF infrastructure includes everything from police stations to military warehouses, airports, and runways. So, the goal is to help Iraqi lead engineers and technicians further develop their proficiency to protect a million-dollar investment, said Lund, a native of Pleasanton, Calif.

Long term, the MoD Military Public Work's desire is to establish a Corps of Engineers school to prepare Iraq's future engineers and formalize standard-engineering practices according to international safety standards, said USF-I's Senior MoD Infrastructure Advisor Tom Bishop.

Their trip to several U.S. military installations gave USF-I advisors credibility with Iraqi leaders, and helped to reinforce the methods shared between the United States and Iraq, said Bishop, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot of 27 years, who currently works with the ministries' leaders in an advising and training capacity to establish effective maintenance and sustainment practices.

Joint endeavors such as this trip are critical in strengthening an enduring, strategic partnership between Iraq and the United States, as they help establish a foundation for increased security and economic stability benefitting Iraq and its regional neighbors.

"The senior leaders have a very good idea, and are ready to work amongst themselves in the ISF," said Bishop a native of Irvine, Calif. "Additionally Iraq is building relationships and long term ties with the United States."

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