From day one of the invasion of Iraq critics have been complaining about the emphasis on guns and bombing over the need for economic development of Iraq. The 15th Regiment station in Huda is attempting a different approach to dealing with terrorism. In addition to paying local people to form defense units, it will begin paying people to improve sanitation or engage in building or even pick up trash. According to Lt. Col. Jack Marr, “only barely second to security in my neighborhood is employment, and so I’ve got to find a way to make that bridge.” Each person hired will receive a salary of $300 a month, the same figure being given Sunni armed groups known as Awakening Councils. The Huda area has now become fairly quiet and American forces realize economic development is the best guarantee that situation will continue. The plan is to hire 600 men to work in sanitation, building reconstruction, and in security.
Four years ago, the arrogance of Rumsfeld and Cheney boasted about military efforts and paid scant attention to the more important facet of victory– creating a viable society in which people not only felt secure, but had meaningful jobs. It is a good sign that US troops are now turning away from the focus on war, to include a focus on peaceful development.