RAWAH, Iraq --
Waste not, want not. Marines take this to heart when pulling out of an area.
As Coalition forces begin the process of moving out of buildings here, they are turning the structures over to the local Iraqis.
For this reason, local contractors are refurbishing buildings in the city of Rawah that have been demilitarized.
“It is necessary for the Iraqi people to get back into the attitude that their city is no longer a war zone,” said Staff Sgt. Rick S. Sterner, 38, from Winchester Va., and the team chief with Detachment 1, Civil Affairs Team 5, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5. “We are consolidating and moving a lot of troops outside of the cities, which is why a lot of the CA team projects are repairing demilitarized buildings to turn back over to the local government.”
Coalition forces have recently demilitarized a bank and a courthouse here that were being used as sleeping quarters and a chow hall.
Marines with CA Team 5 inspected the progress on the courthouse and met with a local contractor to finish signing paperwork on the bank project. Construction has already started on the courthouse and a contract was signed on May 21 to begin repairs on the bank next door.
“In the courthouse, there are a couple of walls being rebuilt, and they are also repairing the roof that was leaking,” said Gunnery Sgt. Gary M. Gonzales, 39, from Alhambra Calif., and is the assistant team leader for CA team 5. “I just think it’s fair that if we show up and use one of their buildings, that we fix it up before we give it back.”
Rebuilding these structures is also a way to help stimulate the local economy.
“We try to use local people for the jobs to avoid any tribal conflicts; plus, they will hire people from within the community which will put money into the hands of the people,” said Gonzales.
In addition to the building, the Marines are also overseeing the removal of the road blockades that were used here when Coalition forces occupied the buildings.
“Removing the road blockades will also give the people a more direct route to the markets and the hospital, which will also stimulate the economy,” said Sterner. “We are here to help them return to normalcy.”