Area business joins with U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in Iraq

Published 6:47 pm Thursday, March 11, 2010

APM Terminals of Portsmouth, joined forces with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently by donating much-needed soccer equipment to a school in Iraq.

Colonel Dan Anninos, USACE Gulf Region District commander and his teammates, delivered the donated uniforms, soccer balls and nets to a school near a project site where the Corps is refurbishing a water treatment unit that provides the only source of water to Twaila, a remote village in northern Iraq where the school is located.

Twaila is in the Kirkuk Province just off the Zab River. The village is a poor, rural Sunni Arab village that is composed of more than 200 mud brick and cinderblock houses providing homes for some 400 families. Unemployment in the village is estimated to be above 50 percent.

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In support of this community, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region District is rebuilding a water treatment unit, which will supply clean disinfected water to the residents of Twaila.

“Building a sense of community and common purpose is important when doing projects in remote areas of Iraq,” Anninos said. “Project funds don’t allow for things like soccer balls and kids’ uniforms, so the donated equipment from APM Terminals is filling a critical void as we execute our reconstruction mission here in Iraq.”

Prior to Anninos’ departure from commanding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, Edward McCarthy from APM Terminals expressed an interest in supporting America’s deployed military men and women in Iraq.

The partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and APM Terminals dates back several years with the establishment of the 50-foot channel leading into the key port terminals within the Hampton Roads Area.

According to Anninos, the idea came to him during a site inspection, when he noticed an empty soccer field adjacent to a school with no nets or equipment.

“What better way to support this community by providing clean water and some much-needed sports equipment to the local grade school?” he thought, remembering Ed McCarthy’s offer to partner again with APM Terminals.

“Ed McCarthy was very eager to support and assist us in this effort. He immediately shipped over eight boxes filled with soccer balls, pumps, soccer ball jerseys, goal nets, socks and cookie snacks,” Anninos said. “The results were magnificent! The school teachers were very appreciative, as were the local village leaders.”

“This is an important partnership within the Hampton Roads Maritime Community, and now it has carried over to Iraq,” Anninos said. “As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers executes the reconstruction mission, we not only look for opportunities to deliver much-needed facilities to the Iraqi people, but we also welcome opportunities to partner with U.S. organizations and businesses to deliver humanitarian type assistance to local villages.”

A small scrimmage game was played after the equipment was distributed. The kids outplayed Anninos and Maj. Edward Allen, the officer in charge of constructing the water treatment unit, who attempted to show off their skills but were hindered by their heavy body armor.

“This unique event will be remembered by the village leaders, the teachers, the residents but more importantly the children,” Anninos said. “This is a great example of APM Terminals’ continued support to the men and women serving in Iraq and their contribution to make a difference in this small village located in the Kirkuk Province.”

This is just one of many examples of the way U.S. citizens, communities and businesses have supported the reconstruction efforts in Iraq by selflessly providing humanitarian support to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, according to Anninos.

The water treatment unit being rebuilt at Twaila village is one of 12 units being refurbished throughout remote areas of Kirkuk Province in northern Iraq. Once completed, the unit will provide fresh drinking water to approximately 2,500 Iraqi citizens who currently have no clean source of water for their homes. Funding for this project is provided by the U.S. Department of State.

Anninos’ command is executing approximately $1 billion in the Iraq reconstruction effort as the program begins to wind down and U.S. forces begin to execute a responsible drawdown.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 2003 has witnessed many successes in capacity building and improving the quality of life of Iraqi citizens across six key project sectors, including security and justice, transportation and communications, health and education, sewer and water, military support, and electricity.

Through the years, new Iraqi construction and design companies have formed, and the Corps has put thousands of Iraqis to work and assisted in coaching, training and mentoring their engineers so they can take control and re-build their nation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq has completed thousands of reconstruction projects in partnership with the government of Iraq. Since 2004, USACE has completed 5,257 projects throughout Iraq valued at more than $9.1 billion, and has more than 250 projects ongoing. The overall reconstruction effort in Iraq currently provides jobs for more than 20,000 Iraqis.