Every day our troops are showing more signs of the progess in Iraq! The nay-sayers cannot continue to turn their heads and pretend that we are not making a positive difference in the Middle East.
1st Cavalry News 35th Street Market open for business
By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith
4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – Seven weeks ago, the citizens of East Doura couldn’t walk down 35th Street. Seven weeks ago, there would have been an explosive or gunfire waiting for them.
Seven weeks ago, the Raiders weren’t in the area.
That’s how long the Soldiers of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division have been overseeing the security of the 35th Street market in southern Baghdad’s Rashid District.
In those few weeks, approximately 20 shops have already opened up, and there hasn’t been a single explosive attack.
Capt. Nicholas Cook, the commander of Troop A, 1-4 Cav. from Lansing, Mich., said while the northern section of the street has become a hub of economic activity, the unit is not ready to sit back on its haunches.
“We want the whole street to come back,” he said. “Hopefully more businesses will open up on the southern end of 35th Street, and they’ll continue to open up.”
Sgt. 1st Class Gannon Edgy, a platoon sergeant with Trp A, 1-4 Cav. from Brunswick, Ga., said his Soldiers are noticing the difference.
“When we first took over, people didn’t want to stop and talk to us,” he said. “Now, locals seek us out to talk to us.”
Capt. William Johnson, a business analyst with the 4th IBCT’s embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team from Minnetonka, Minn., said success at the 35th Street Market coincides with the overall strategy in Iraq.
“Economics and governance are important within the (Counter-Insurgency) strategy that Gen. (David) Petraeus developed to allow the Iraqis to stand on their own,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, if we develop the governance capacity for the Iraqis, they can govern themselves in a responsible fashion.
“Then we can go home, and equivalent to that, if we can build up the economy, we can put people to work, people won’t be doing things that are detrimental to themselves or U.S. troops.”
In an area where Al Qaeda had a foothold, where the terrorists could move unabated, citizens of Iraq can now find real estate offices, restaurants, auto parts stores, and computer stores in the market. Cook said this would not be the case without the relationships his Soldiers have developed.
“They work hard with the people, they talk with the people, they make people feel that we are not strangers, and that we are actually part of the community,” Cook said. “Just making them feel that we are there for their security. The troopers worked really hard to become part of this community.”
For leaders like Edgy, the type of fight has shifted dramatically in a few short years, and therefore, so must the tactics.
“(This deployment) is a more three-dimensional, four-dimensional war,” he said. “It went from knowing the enemy to having to hunt and fight the enemy. It’s become an intelligence battlefield.
“It’s like your own hometown. You have to know what’s going on.”
Johnson said 1-4 Cav’s hard work has paid off, but there’s still more to do.
“We are making some success, but given more time we can potentially grow our success,” he said. “For example, (the success) we’ve had in Doura Market to other economic areas within the sector.”
Edgy said to grow the success on 35th Street, the merchants must have a voice in the happenings in their neighborhood.
“Letting shop owners know the plan and ask their opinion,” he said. “Making them feel involved is the key.”
Sgt. 1st Class Gannon Edgy, a platoon sergeant with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Brunswick, Ga., checks out a local’s wares at the 35th Street Market in southern Baghdad July 12. More than 50 new shops have opened since 1-4 Cav has taken over the area of operations. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Smith, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs)
Capt. Nicholas Cook, the commander of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Lansing, Mich., talks with an Iraqi vendor at the 35th Street Market in southern Baghdad July 12. Economic development is one of the essential elements of Gen. David Petraeus’ Counter-Insurgency strategy in Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Smith, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs)