Market opens with promise of safer shopping
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – Soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, along with members of the Karkh District Advisory Council helped officially open a market in Baghdad’s Karkh District Sept. 30.
As Baghdad’s Karkh District enjoys an extended period of peace, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. has started working on civic projects such as school, clinic, and market openings. One section of Karkh, called Sheik Ali, is predominantly a Sunni area surrounded by Shiites neighborhoods. And although the sectarian violence has all but stopped all over the Haifa Street area, the memories have kept many of the residents from traveling to markets throughout the rest of Karkh, according to Sumtner, S.C. native, Capt. Vincent Morris, with Troop I, 4-2 SCR.
Before Morris’ unit arrived to Iraq, another unit, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, that patrolled the Karkh district, helped start the work in opening up the newest market in Karkh.
“It originally started with the unit we RIP’d (conducted a relief-in-place) with, 1-14 Cav., and they got the ground work laid,” said Capt. Mathew Bocian, 4-2 SCR’s Civil Military Operations officer. “And we are just riding on their coat tails here as it finishes.”
According to Bocian, who hails from Pittsburg, the Mashahda Market is currently the primary “focal point” for many in the neighborhood for a few reasons.
“Sheik Ali has been fraught with unemployment and essential services issues and especially with the sectarian violence,” he said. “This market serves as a place for them all to go; they don’t have to travel outside their neighborhood and with markets being spread out in different parts of our AO (area of operations). This provides a safe market in their neighborhood, but it also provides jobs and a point of contingency of pride; it’s an area they can be proud of, and that seems to be one of the big things we’re trying to build for everyone – have something to be proud of right in your own back yard.”
Mashahda Market has 37, garage-sized stalls, which will serve as individual stores, and a covered, open-air area. Lt. Col. Tony Aguto, 4-2 SCR’s commander, suspects that hundreds of people in the area will benefit from the market and its location.
“I think this market is a great idea; it’s what we call a ‘safe market,’” the Mauwau, N.J. native said. “I think this market, because of its location, proximity to people and the security that can be provided here, can be a great asset to the community.”
As many households do not have constant refrigeration, shopping at markets daily is a large part of an Iraqi’s way of life. Meats and produce have to be purchased almost daily. The market’s location will be very important to the Sheik Ali residents according to Morris.
“This will be an Iraqi version of a mini-mall,” he said. “It will be a one-stop shop. They’ll be able to come here and get what they need to survive and sustain themselves.”
One of Morris’ platoons will visit the market daily as shoppers come through; however, the security will be handled by Iraqi Security Forces.
“Once this market opens, we’ll come around daily to check on the people and make sure everything is going well in the market, but Iraqis will secure the market,” he said. “They’ll have a security force that’ll come out here.”
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, provide security at the Mashahda Market before its official opening in Baghdad, Iraq Sept. 30. (Courtesy photo)
Lt. Col. Tony Aguto, commander of the 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, speaks to vendors during the Mashahda Market opening in central Baghdad Sept. 30. (Courtesy photo)
Sgt. 1st Class Kim ~ Thank you for all of your excellent work in getting the news out for us back home! The Public Affairs Soldiers are often overlooked, when I am handing out the praise. However, you are very much appreciated. From your reporting, we know that you are right in the heat of it, day in and day out.Hugs out!