Restoring a bit of the old Iraqi army

This is from the Multi-National Transistion Command-Iraq’s .pdf newsletter. It doesn’t appear to show up anywhere else, so I’m taking the liberty of reproducing the text in its entirety:

Clean up begins at Iraqi Unknown Soldier Monument
By U.S. Army Capt. Chris Watt
Joint Area Support Group Public Affairs

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Work on cleaning up and repairing Iraq’s Unknown Soldier Monument in the International Zone by more than 20 local Iraqis is expected to be finished in time for an upcoming traditional wreath-laying ceremony.

Here’s an image I found in a Webshots album:

The ceremony will be part of an Iraqi Army celebration marking the anniversary of its formation in 1921. The clean up and repair work on the monument began Nov. 23. The project at the Unknown Soldier Monument is a joint venture between the Joint Area Support Group and the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team, both based in the International Zone. Working together, the two groups have hired local contractors who will not only clean up the monument but also fix electrical and plumbing lines as they install barracks and a dining facility for the guards. Iraqi soldiers specifically assigned to guard the monument are expected to move into the barracks structure near the end of December.

“It is a very nice gesture to clean the site out of respect for the new Iraq Army,” said Feisal Hazem, a project contractor. “The monument is actually in pretty good shape. It just needs cleaning up and landscaping.

“This area is one of the nicest and greenest areas of Baghdad,” Hazem added. “This monument was also protected from the heavy looting because of the (International) Zone.”

As part of the contract, most of Hazem’s hired workers are Iraqis living in the International Zone. They’ve spent the past two weeks clearing and burning the wild brush and grass around the monument grounds. “Work is good here,” said a smiling worker with both thumbs up. “You have more work after this?” Through an interpreter, the man said he plans to save what he makes on the monument project to move into a house outside the International Zone.

The Unknown Soldier Monument clean up project is one of several initiatives promoted by the Iraqi government and the Joint Area Support Group to clean up and restore the monuments and buildings within the International Zone. Iraqi workers spray down and wash off sand and debris from the marble steps of the unknown Soldier Monument and burn wild grass and brush from the grounds surrounding the monument.