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Soldiers, Local Leaders Create a Place for Kidsí Play (GIs and Kids; a natural!)
Defend America News ^ | Sgt. Mike Alberts

Posted on 09/27/2007 6:56:25 PM PDT by SandRat

Soldiers, Local Leaders Create a Place for Kids’ Play
Children in the Tisin neighborhood of Kirkuk, Iraq, have a safe playground at which
to play, courtesy of their local government leaders and U.S. and Iraqi soldiers.

By Sgt. Mike Alberts
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

KIRKUK, Iraq, Sept. 27, 2007 — The children here show no shortage of energy or imagination. On any given day, some play soccer in dirt alleys; others noisily run among parked cars playing in an Iraqi equivalent of “tag.”

What the children in Tisin, an ethnically mixed neighborhood in northwest Kirkuk, lacked was a safe place to play with ready-made fun. That is, until local government leaders and the soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Iraqi army’s 4th Division got together.

The playground, complete with swings, sliding boards and play towers opened on Sept. 24, 2007, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“It’s the children who will lead this country out of despair; it’s the children that will carry this country beyond sectarian strife.”
Lt. Col. James D. Hess

The playground idea originated from an off-hand remark during a joint Iraqi security and coalition force leaders’ meeting. The result is a project that has addressed an immediate public need and can serve as a symbol of progress and hope for the citizens of Kirkuk.

“During a meeting after a combat operation someone remarked, ‘Now the children of Kirkuk can play in the streets,’ referencing the improved security situation,” recalled Army Lt. Col. James D. Hess, battalion commander, 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3IBCT. “In response, an Iraqi army commander said, ‘Yes, but children shouldn’t have to play in the streets.’”

Hess, who observed the exchange from the back of the meeting room, filed away the idea.

“I thought, ‘OK Here’s something that my battalion, the brigade’s support battalion, and the one without a direct combat role, can become involved in to offer hope for Iraq’s future generation,” said Hess. “It’s the children who will lead this country out of despair; it’s the children that will carry this country beyond sectarian strife.”

Sensing the conditions for this type of project were favorable, four months later, Hess contacted the brigade’s civil affairs officer and, eventually, Army Capt. Justin Gorkowski and the Iraqi Army’s 4th Division got involved. Gorkowski works from an Iraqi army compound located on the outskirts of Kirkuk. He devotes his time training and mentoring the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army’s civil affairs’ staff.

“The playground is very important,” said Maj. Zyad Junade, civil affairs officer, 2-4 IA, through an interpreter. Junade and his staff drafted the project proposal and introduced it to local government officials for approval. He also spearheaded identifying an appropriate location for the project with Kirkuk’s Director of Municipalities.

“Ultimately, it was placed in a neighborhood where the people need to see their government and the Iraqi security

Two small girls are among the first children to enjoy one of several swings at the new Tisin Playground in Kirkuk, Iraq. The playground — the result of a joint project involving local government, the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Iraqi Army’s 4th Division — opened Sept. 24, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Alberts Photo Essay

forces providing something for them long term, something essential,” said Junade. “It will have an obvious and immediate impact. It’s surrounded by houses and [is near] the largest orphanage in Kirkuk. Our goal is to provide long term incentives. [This playground] gives the young people in this troubled neighborhood hope for a better future.”

The playground project is part of a larger approximately $30,000 park plan that will include gardens, lighted walkways and 24-hour city security, said Capt. Jonathan Howe, personnel officer, 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 3IBCT.

According to Gorkowski, he and his Iraqi army counterpart are focusing on winning the support of the local population by providing the community with core essential services, among other things.

“The playground project didn’t really fall under our traditional model, but it was still something that we thought would be very effective,” said Gorkowski. “These types of projects are critical to defeating an insurgency. A family will look at this as much more valuable than [security forces] coming to their home in the middle of the night and asking them if they have seen any bad guys.”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iraq; iraqichildren; kids; locals; play; safe; soldiers

1 posted on 09/27/2007 6:56:30 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...
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2 posted on 09/27/2007 6:57:10 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat

Many GIs are kids. I was. Joined Carter’s Army as an emotional, erratic teen.

3 posted on 09/27/2007 8:01:25 PM PDT by flowerplough (Not a sociopath, merely a delusional narcissist.)
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To: flowerplough

BIG Hearty raound of APPLAUSE TO You for joining up and serving at a sad time when our Armed Forces were being “Skinned alive” from the Executive and Legislative Branch.

4 posted on 09/27/2007 8:09:54 PM PDT by ExcursionGuy84 ("Jesus, Your Love takes my breath away.")
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