Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ok..........Here Goes!

This is my first serious post about the DOD Blogger's Roundtable. As my two readers will recall, I wormed my way into this gig about three weeks ago. So I've been getting invitations and looking for the *right* one ever since. Now that my head's on the block, I am hesitant. I was looking for one that I could participate in and perhaps not come off looking like a jackass.
During this sorting process, I got an invitation to participate in one about PRTs. In specific, it was going to be Mark Wilt, who is a PRT member in the Wasit province in Iraq. I thought it sounded really interesting, but I wasn't comfortable participating. So, I listened in while it was live (the Phibian says "y'all") and again later. I read the transcript and Mr. Wilt's bio. I read up on PRTs in general and Wasit in particular. In short I did more homework than I ever did for the Nuns on the top of Bunker Hill, sorry Sr. Mary Esther!

Now, almost two weeks later, I'm ready to write about it! LOL

I was right on the first guess. It was really interesting. This story also proves out what my fellow milbloggers and I often lament about.....MSM doesn't come close to giving you all the news.

You will often hear people say that Iraq can not be won by the military alone. That the only force at work in Iraq is DOD related. While the DOD is indeed tied into everything that is going on, there are other parts of our government involved. The PRT, Provincial Reconstruction Teams are a joint DOD/DOS operation with DOS in the lead. Mr. Wilt is the USAID representative on the Wasit team.
Wasit is a province in the south east of Iraq. Wasit takes it's name from an Arabic word meaning "middle". It lies along the Tigris about midway between Baghdad and the Basra. It's economy is largely dependent on argriculture. It's capital is the city of Kut, the scene of a famous WWI battle between the Turks and the Brits.

Wasit, which was once a major agricultural area in Iraq, after all this is Mesopotamia, lol. However, there is a huge breakdown in the system there. Farming was heavily subsidized in the past and the PRT is trying to rebuild from the ground up. There are a number of things at work here. Cheap imports from Iran which borders Wasit, a lack of water, seeds, fertilizer, and equipment. Irrigation is a problem because of a poorly maintained pump system. Seeds and fertilizer used to be provided by the government. Equipment is hard to get because it's tough to finance.
The finance discussion was really the most eye-opening part of this interview for me.
The interest rate between the government and the banks is over 17% (Holy Cow!) and the normal collateral requirement is 300% to 500% (again - Holy Cow!). So it's incredibly difficult to buy a tractor and other equipment. So the PRT is putting together microloans and other guarantees to facilitate farming equipment purchases.
So, in conclusion:

More than one part of the United States Government is participating in helping Iraq stand up and become the stable country that we all desire.

Helping the Wasit farmers flourish in the new Iraq is more complicated than "Hey, this is good farmland....what's your problem?"

Security in Wasit is good and making it feasible for Iraqis and Americans to work together toward our common goals.

These are things I would not know if the MSM was my only means of obtaining information.

Oh, and David at War Is Boring is kind of a smart-ass, but a funny one.


CDR Salamander said...

What's wrong with "ya'll?"

You say "you'se" ... a car is a "khaar."

Yankees. Harumph; can't believe we were defeated by such a bunch of numb-nuts.

BostonMaggie said...

First off........for your edification - A Bostonian is NEVER a Yankee. To a Bostonian "Yankee" is either a loathed ball player from New York or a tight-lipped, tightwad from DownEast Maine.

Secondly - Who toldja they wa' numb? That'id be no fun a'tall!