Getting the word out

A piece in the Augusta Chronicle about native Augustan Lt. Col. Stan Heath, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, points out a major issue in rebuilding:

“Many people believe that the Americans can do miracles, and cannot understand why there is no security, no electricity, no services and so on,” Mr. [Hamid] Alkifaey[, leader of the Movement for a Democratic Society in Iraq,] said in an e-mail. “Many people do not believe the Americans when they say they are there to help Iraqis. … People believe the message when they see there is a difference in their lives, and this has not happened.”

It’s Lt. Col. Heath’s job to let Iraqis know that work is being done.

Although Lt. Col. Heath has worked with reporters from CNN, Fox News and The New York Times, he said he’s had more success getting his message out in Iraqi newspapers such as Al Sabah, Al Taakhi and Addustour, and on Al Iraqia TV and the U.S.-sponsored Al Hurra satellite channel.

This alternative press

not only reports on the incessant insurgent attacks, but also picks up Lt. Col. Heath’s news releases about the Corps’ work on water plants, electrical substations, military bases, hospitals, railroad stations and bridges.

Of course, there is another problem:

When he sends them news releases, he doesn’t list the districts or towns where projects are under way, lest they be targeted by bombers.

“It’s not like the Marshall Plan,” Lt. Col. Heath said, referring to the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. “We’re doing this while we’re still fighting this counterinsurgency battle, fighting against these saboteurs and these insurgents. It’s a tough mission. Let there be no mistake about that.”

They’re fighting an uphill battle over there.