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Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Iraqi Police Station Opens in Wahida

19 July 07
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Public Affairs
.

COMBAT OUTPOST CLEARY, Iraq — The Wahida City Council opened a new police station in Wahida July 17 in the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment’s area of operation.

When Lt. Col. Jack Marr, 1-15 Infantry commander, Lt. Col. Ryan Kuhn, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s deputy commanding officer, and Capt. Ravindra Wagh, commander of Company E, 1st Battalion, 125 Infantry Regiment, arrived at the new police station, they were greeted by a mob of excited Iraqi policemen and local leaders.

The visit began with a tour of the new facility followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony signifying the end of the project and the opening of a brand new Iraqi police station.

On paper, the project began in October 2006 with a request for a new Iraqi police station. According to Wagh, who headed the project from start to finish, the Iraqi Police of Wahida received the title to an empty lot and the appropriate funds to get the project under way. Wagh said the former Wahida police station, which was co-located with a mosque, did not have the resources fit for a unit whose main mission is providing security to Wahida.

“The old police station was right down the road from the new one,” Wagh said. “It had three rooms and the front of the building was a mosque. It wasn’t fit for jurisdiction in Wahida.”

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, members of the Wahida police, along with leaders of the community and Coalition Forces, sat down for a conference to discuss the new station. “It is very nice to have the new police station here (in Wahida,)” Jawad Khadum, chairman of the Wahida city council said through a translator. “I would like for you to all be equal, to work as one, to serve the community and enforce the law.” He then saluted the policemen for a job well done on the project.

Lt. Col. Kareem, the station commander, also spoke at the conference. He thanked the Coalition Forces for their efforts on the project. He also reminded his policemen that they have a brand new station and encouraged them to maintain the station as it stands today.

According to Wagh, the project is a symbol the citizens of Wahida can see that proves the government is capable of listening to the requests of the community and spending the $3.5 million it took to fund the project on the community. “This government has a commitment to security,” he said. “Many people believed the government was getting all this money and they would never see it. "This project proves the government is spending the money on their communities.”

Wagh, who has been in Iraq since August 2006, said he was privileged to be able to see the new Iraqi police station project from start to finish. “The problem with many of these projects is that one unit is there for the beginning and then has to leave so another unit gets to the final outcome,” he said. “I am glad I was able to see the conception on paper all the way up to the building we see today.”

Although the new police station doesn’t necessarily increase the capability or the capacity of the Iraqi police, Marr believes it does a lot for the morale of the policemen. He said it also shows the Wahida citizens that progress is being made and normalcy is being restored.

“This project gives the good people of Wahida confidence in their police,” Marr said. “The project was Iraqi driven, which means we are coming along the way we have always wanted. We want to help the Iraqi people help themselves. The best solutions are the Iraqi solutions.”

Photo - Army Brig. Gen. Allawi, deputy district commander, cuts the ribbon with Army Lt. Col. Jack Marr at a ceremony July 17 to open the new Wahida police station in Wahida, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Natalie Rostek.

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