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Civil Affairs Marines clear rubble, path for the new Iraq

8 Feb 2006 | Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

Marines of the 6th Civil Affairs Group, working in concert with local Iraqis, have begun the process of clearing rubble of various municipal buildings in the city of Husaybah.

The rubble was a result of fighting during Operation Steel Curtain – a coalition offensive against the insurgents in the Al Qa’im region of the western Al Anbar province.  During the operation, insurgents would use buildings and compounds for cover and concealment, which resulted in the destruction of these buildings when coalition forces used air power and ordnance to engage the enemy.  

Some of the buildings reduced during the fighting were facilities used by the local government.  Without these buildings, the local Iraqi governmental process has slowed down, according to Westfield, Mass., native Maj. Sean M. Hurley, a civil affairs team leader for 6th CAG. 

According to Master Sgt. David D. Minter, civil affairs specialist, 6th Civil Affairs Group and native of Haw River, N.C., it is the job of the 6th CAG to work with the local government officials – mayors, police chiefs, city officials and local commerce of importance – to assist them with getting the local government on its feet.

“Without government you can’t have leadership - people coming together for the common good,” said Minter.

Roughly $190,000 has been spent in rubble clearing projects since combat operations ended in the Husaybah area alone – a city of approximately 55,000 people, according to Hurley.

Rubble is being cleared from the town’s hospital, five schools as well as several open lots designated as the sites of new municipal buildings and a new Iraqi police station.   The eventual construction of new municipal buildings and the Iraqi police station are integral parts of getting a fledgling local government on its feet. 

In the process of clearing rubble, Civil Affairs works with the Al Qa’im Reconstruction Committee, a group comprised of local leaders to determine which areas require immediate attention.  Once the sites are identified, the civil affairs Marines solicit bids from local contractors, including estimated costs for clearing the rubble.  Whenever possible, a local contractor is picked to fuse money and work for the local Iraqis to spur economic growth. 

“We want money to go to the Iraqis - local contractors,” said Hurley.  “Once they say the work is done, we check up on it and if it’s completed, then we pay them.”

In addition to rubble clearing, the Marines of Civil Affairs have other projects in the works, according to Hurley. Projects to repair the railway and water treatment plant here are on the horizon as well as repairs to the local judicial building and government fuel station.  Damage claims are also received from local Iraqis to receive payment for incidental battle damages caused by coalition forces.  A number of schools in the region have also been earmarked for rebuilding.

“Without it you don’t have things that make progress:  water, power, et cetera,” Minter said. “We’ve made tremendous gains [so far.]”