[...]He directs a staff of 30 U.S. military and civilian personnel along with 50 Iraqi engineers who have the goal of turning Baghdad back into a great city. “It was the birthplace of civilization and today we’re investing huge of amounts of money to rebuild 30 years of neglect as residents regain their confidence that this city has a future. It’s hard when you’ve been repressed for that many decades to stand up for what you believe and that’s the challenge we’re facing.”
But Revolinsky is optimistic and that viewpoint starts with the Iraqis on his staff. “They’re awesome individuals. They put their lives on the line every day going out in the community to oversee the work going on. They sincerely want to help their country, they want to do a great job, and it’s a shame the hardships and danger they and their neighbors have to put up with. I respect them immensely. They want to make Baghdad a better place.”
Most of the Iraqis working for USACE are educated engineers trained at Baghdad University. “They visit the projects, write the reports, provide recommendations and suggest courses of action, and our intent is to eventually transition our office over to them as we work ourselves out of a job. They’re breaking the mold of listening to dictatorial orders that they grew up with and today are solving problems on their own. I’m very pleased with the direction we’re going.”
Throughout Baghdad Province, Revolinsky’s team is managing more than 300 projects valued in excess of $1.2 billion. That work includes $300 million for three major sewer trunk lines, more than $100 million for replacing the electric distribution network in Sadr City, refurbishing 18 gas stations, renovating hospitals, building new primary healthcare centers, new courthouses, new water distribution networks, repaving roads, repair of area schools and the construction of several new ones.
Nine new fire stations have been built in Baghdad decreasing response time from an average of 15 minutes to 5 or 6 minutes. “Residents can see first hand that their government is working, that improvements to their neighborhoods are taking place, that there’s reason for hope.”