1st Cav News
Apache Troops, Salhiyah NAC reopen Al Aflaph Elementary School
By Sgt. Robert Yde
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – One of the biggest changes that Capt. Joseph Guzowski has seen since his last deployment to Iraq three years ago is the dramatic transformation of the relationships between Coalition Forces and the local government leaders in their areas.
“It’s come a long ways since I was back here in 2004, and you couldn’t even get the NAC (neighborhood advisory council) members to leave the building,” he said. “They didn’t even want to show up to meetings.”
The Buffalo, N.Y. native, who is the commander of Troop A, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said that the turnaround has been due to improvements in the security situations and has allowed a very rewarding partnership to blossom.
“We work hand-in-hand with the NAC, and these guys are taking a vested interest in their neighborhoods now,” he explained. “They’re free to walk around and do things with us and not afraid to be seen with us; so it’s come a long ways in about three years.”
In Baghdad’s Kindi and Salhiyah neighborhoods, which 4-9 Cav.’s Soldiers operate in, the payoff in this improved relationship is most evident in the number of schools that have been renovated and reopened over the past several months.
“The squadron’s focus is that we’re trying to get every school in our AO (area of operations) renovated in some way,” Guzowski said, “and just trying to foster a better environment for the Iraqi kids.”
To date, six schools have been reopened for the upcoming school year, including the most recent one, Salhiyah’s Al Aflaph Elementary School, which was reopened after a month-and-a half long renovation process, Sept. 1.
According to the school’s deputy director, Humood, both the inside and outside of the school was littered with glass and debris after a mortar round hit the building last spring.
“All the windows were broken out and people stopped having their children come to school here because they were scared from the glass or that it was going to get hit again,” Humood said.
Along with cleaning up the grounds and repairing the damaged wall, he said that the school was repainted, air conditioning was added, bathrooms were repaired and an internet room with 12, brand new computers was created.
He said many of the neighborhood’s children live near the school and have watched the rebuilding effort with a great deal of anticipation.
“They’ve been stopping over here to see what’s going on, and they have been very, very impressed with what’s going on in the school, and when they return they are going to be very happy,” Humood said.
Ali Jamil Latif, the contractor whose company worked on the school, said that anytime his company gets a contract to work on a school, it’s special.
“The most important thing for me is serving the students, and also I’m helping the community and making things better and better,” he said. “It’s going to be a great place for the students to study.”
The school provides educational services to nearly 1,300 students and will resume classes Oct. 1.
Guzowski said that his troop will work with the Salhiyah NAC to refurbish three more schools in the next three months, and that the investment in the educational system will benefit the neighborhood for years to come.
“It feels great,” he said. “I love seeing the kids in the community happy. What makes them happy, makes us happy and makes it safer for everyone. So it’s a good feeling.”
A group of young children hang around the Al Aflaph Elementary School in Salhiyah before it is reopened after a month-and-a-half long renovation process Sept. 1. Children in the neighborhood have been watching the progress being made on the school during the summer with much anticipation. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)A new computer lab was part of the renovations that took place to Al Aflaph Elementary School in Salhiyah over the last month-and-a-half. The school was reopened during a small ceremony Sept. 1, and nearly 1,300 students are expected to return for classes Oct. 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)Capt. Joseph Guzowski, the commander of Troop A, 4-9 Cav., 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., helps school and local leaders cut a cake at the Al Aflaph Elementary School in Salhiyah, signifying the schools reopening Sept. 1. Over the past month-and-a-half, the school has been undergoing renovations to prepare it for the upcoming school year. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs) Capt. Joseph Guzowski, the commander of Troop A, 4-9 Cav., 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., congratulates contractor, Ali Jamil Latif, for his work renovating the Al Aflaph Elementary School in Salhiyah after it was reopened for the upcoming school year Sept. 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)After leaving a ceremony to reopen the Al Aflaph Elementary School in Salhiyah, Capt. Joseph Guzowski (left), the commander of Troop A, 4-9 Cav., 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., and Staff Sgt. Justin Miller, stop to play a game of foosball with some of the local children Sept. 1. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)