August 20, 2007

Reconstruction and Redevelopment in Iraq

[Bob's latest report from Iraq follows. The interviews and encounters he describes below will be available online soon after he returns - FbL]

Hello everybody,

We have not had much Internet access time for the past three days, but I have a few minutes on a computer here in Fallujah. Once we leave here, I am not sure how many days before I will be able to get online again (we will be on the move again).

The past three days have been a whirlwind of information. We told the people who approved us coming back for our third trip that we wanted to focus on reconstruction... progress... the positive stories. I can tell you that we are getting far more of those stories to bring back to the American people than we had imagined, and we still have many days left.

We have spent a lot of time with North Dakota National Guard, and other military and civilians who work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Jim and I had no idea the huge role the Corps has had and continues to have in the rebuilding of Iraq:

We have talked with a doctor who is over 60 years old and is doing remarkable work on reconstruction, and civilians with USACE who have been here for over a year, fully engaged in reconstruction. We talked with Iraqis--one of those interviews was audio only and may by now be available for all to listen on this blog. If not it will be soon or available on our our website [I'm waiting for it to be uploaded, but should have it by the end of the day - FbL].

On one day we visited a new Telecommunications Center and Post Office being built in Baghdad a few miles from the International Zone. These two new 7-story buildings are being built side-by-side with a Belgian Company, USACE, and many Iraqis, and will greatly help the people in Baghdad and Iraq.

We also visited a Childrens Hospital. Our footage from the hospital will be incredible to listen to on the Internet, but everyone will also want to watch this on their TV's--either when it comes out on cable on Altitude Sports and Entertainment or when we get the DVD's ready.

We also heard about 80-100 reconstruction projects in Baghdad alone. We are hearing stories about water and sewage treatment plants, new schools, new health clinics, a new fire department and much more.

On the domestic side of the Baghdad International Airport (BIA), we watched as people from many countries flew in and out. The security is much tighter than anywhere we have seen, but they have had no problems. We also went to a new terminal that is about to open after having been completely renovated, another of the many projects we are bringing back reports on.

We did interviews and filmed footage of a huge new convention center being opened up near BIA. The Baghdad Chamber of Commerce, USACE and more are all teaming up on this project.

Recently we left Baghdad and headed for Falluja, where we have heard so many more stories of reconstruction and progress in large areas of Iraq. We have covered the opening of a new Large Police Training Academy and a new Tank Maintenance Facility for our Marines in Camp Fallujah. And we talked with a Lt. Cdr. with the US Navy who shared even more reconstruction stories.

I can say this: anybody who has wondered when the good positive stories will be heard in America well hang on.. they are heading your way. We all have an opportunity--all of us--to bring a whole new perspective on what is happening in Iraq to all of America. You will be as surprised as we have been, as day after day we hear more and more of these stories.

I would type more now, but we have to leave this computer. We will try to get back online in a few days in one of our new locations.

By the way, driving around The city of Baghdad has been an incredible experience. We will be doing a lot more of that.

Keep us in your prayers. And please tell others about this blog. Also thank you again to Soldiers' Angels and Patti Bader for being the main sponsors of this, our third trip to Iraq.

Bob Calvert, Host
Talking with Heroes

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