Accessibility links

Iraqis Begin to Rebuild Their Country - 2003-04-10


In many of Iraq’s cities and towns U.S. forces are already working to rebuild -- structurally and politically – with the help of specially trained so-called Iraqi “freedom fighters.” Amy Katz has more.

Brigadier General John Kern commands a U.S. Army Civil Affairs unit – currently in Umm Qasr, Iraq. He and his forces are working across the country -- with local officials and citizens to identify critical needs. Helping with the mission are members of the so-called “Free Iraqi Forces” – a group of Iraqis – trained by the U.S. military - to help in such operations. General Kern – with two of those Iraqis by his side - briefed reporters at the Pentagon Thursday – by videophone. He says the Iraqis are an invaluable resource – because of their knowledge of their hometowns and their country.

BRIG. GEN. JOHN KERN, U.S. ARMY CIVIL AFFAIRS UNIT COMMANDER
“Most of the information we’ve been looking for right now are the lower level need requirements – food, water, electrical power.”

Both Iraqis expressed hope for the future of their country now that - as they put it – Saddam Hussein is finished. General Kern said the “Free Iraqi Forces” are crucial liaisons between the U.S. military and local communities.

BRIG. GEN. JOHN KERN, U.S. ARMY CIVIL AFFAIRS UNIT COMMANDER
“We’re utilizing them based on their area skills. If they’re from the neighborhood that certainly speeds up everything that we’re doing in that neighborhood. We get to meet the local leaders faster. We have an automatic trust built in if we have one of the local boys with us.”

General Kern said he and his men also rely on the Iraqis for their professional skills - and he wishes he had more like them. But for reasons he doesn’t know, the program has been discontinued.

XS
SM
MD
LG