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An Iraqi laborer lays the base coat of paint in the meat storage room of a meat processing facility in Rutbah, Iraq, Sept. 28. The project was facilitated with the help of Civil Affairs Team 4, Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 and will provide many jobs in the town. ::r::::n::

Photo by Capt. Paul L. Greenberg

Civil Affairs Team helps spur local economy

29 Sep 2008 | Capt. Paul Greenberg 1st Marine Division

Marines from Civil Affairs Team 4, Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 inspected one of their crowning achievements Sept. 28: the renovation of a meat-processing facility in Rutbah.

An Iraqi town of about 17,000 in western al-Anbar province, Rutbah is situated on a key route between Baghdad and crossing points into Jordan and Syria, Iraq’s major trade neighbors.

Sgt. Jonatan Minier, 24, a CA Team 4 Marine from Tampa, Fla., explained that the meat-processing plant project became a priority after the team had already addressed some other serious issues in Rutbah.

“Our first concern was providing water, sewage services and electricity, as well as medical supplies for the Iraqi clinic,” said Minier.  “I think all these projects are stimulating the economy, because they are providing jobs to the people out in town.”

1st Lt. Dan Alldridge, 25, from Bloomington, Ill. is the officer-in-charge of CA Team 4.  Supported by a crew of 10 Marines and one Navy corpsman, Alldridge spearheaded efforts and ensured all administrative steps were carried out to get the meat plant project off the ground.

The Rutbah city council presented the renovation idea to the CA Team in July, and the Marines then met with a special-projects committee from the city council to outline the scope of work.  Local Iraqi contractors were brought in to bid on the project, and a decision was made based on the contractors’ cost estimates and their professional reputations. 

Alldridge explained that the funding for the project came from the commander’s emergency response program, managed by the I Marine Expeditionary Force. 

Because the $92,000 price tag for the renovations exceeded the $50,000 ceiling for minor projects, it had to be personally approved by Maj. Gen. Martin Post, the I MEF deputy commanding general. 

“This really is a good use of the CERP funds,” said Alldridge.  “First off, it is an idea from the local government, and it is what the people want.  This project will directly benefit the populace, as this will be a consolidated place to bring their animals to slaughter.”

The processing plant has been closed for about 15 years, according to Hashim Mohammed Ali, the local contractor who won the bid for the work.  The citizens of Rutbah have been killing their animals in the street near the market and hanging the meat on hooks in the open air.  The blood and remains left in the street, as well as the meat left to rot in the heat, has created serious public health risks.  The new processing facility will address this issue when it is complete in the next few months.  Furthermore, it will also be a boon to the town’s economy.

“This will bring in a lot of jobs,” explained Alldridge.  “Veterinary staff will inspect the animals.  Butchers will be employed full-time to slaughter them.  Laborers will clean the place daily and remove remains.  Drivers will take meat from refrigerators to the market in refrigerated trucks.  That’s a lot of jobs for a city struggling with unemployment.”

Because of Rutbah’s location on a key thoroughfare through the country, the modern meat-processing plant may also attract much-needed outside business, as well.

Coalition forces turned over security responsibilities for Anbar province to Iraqis on Sept. 1.  The economic development of Rutbah, and many towns like it, will likely have key strategic implications in the future of the fledgling Iraqi democracy.

1st Marine Division