Richard Melson

August 2006

US Army Corps of Engineers: Iraq Business

For Immediate Release

12 August 2006

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Instilling Competitive Business Practices in Iraq

By Tom Clarkson

Gulf Region Division

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Iraq Prime Minister Maliki set the stage with his warmly received remarks to the U.S. Congress last month when he said, "There needs to be a greater reliance on Iraqis and Iraqi companies, with foreign aid and assistance, to help rebuild Iraq."

Today, warm reception turned to hot - both temperately and topically - when this subject was recently presented in the country’s capital. Outside, the day was beastly hot. Inside, thankfully, air conditioning tempered the blistering Iraqi summer while enthusiasm for the subject burned within those in attendance. With the exception of subtle touches of Arabic design ambiance, the site of this excitement in which a seminar on the topic was conducted could well have been that of any up-scale Midwest U.S. hotel.

The women attendee’s attire ranged from the more customary jilbads to smartly tailored western, business, pant suits. The men - many who acknowledged that they were attending in representation of a business which was owned by a woman - were traditionally mustachioed and wore long sleeve, open collared, light colored or striped shirts with well pressed slacks. Located in the International Zone not far from the ancient Tigris River in Baghdad, with nearly eighty attendees, the event was being conducted The Al Rasheed Hotel.

All had come for the "Business Opportunities Seminar for Iraqi Business Women." It was jointly sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division/Project and Contracting Office (USACE-GRD/PCO) and the Joint

Contracting Command – Iraq & Afghanistan (JCC- Iraqi Media interview seminar coordinator I/A) with active participation by representatives

Azzah Humadi of USACE-GRD/PCO. from the Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNFI-I).

Attentively taking notes, the participants actively pored over the several presentations and related hand-out materials, provided both in English and Arabic. Great attention to detail, in preparation for this conference, had been affected by Azza Humadi, the GRD/PCO Women’s Advocate Initiative Project Manager. "Events such these are a ‘must’ for my countrywomen," she stated with firm conviction, "as women will play an extremely vital role in the successful re-building this country."

Following welcoming remarks by the GRD/PCO Director of Reconstruction Programs, Ms. Chris Hinton-Lee, a variety of highly germane topics were presented such as one by JCC-I on contracting issues. Another, appropriately for a country still working on a cash basis, was one regarding banking. The presenter, a Managing Director of one of the country’s new banks, discussed Iraq’s monetary challenges and opportunities. He emphasized, to the budding, capitalist entrepreneurs, the vital importance to a business, of cash flow and the keen need for the country to move into electronic banking.

He was followed by a well articulated presentation via professionals from MNFI-I regarding the actual procedures of issuing proper bids and proposals. The purpose of Iraqi First Program is "To promote and develop the capacity of the Iraqi economy through greater utilization of Iraqi vendors in fulfilling coalition requirements." Ms. Humadi pointed out, "The goal of MNF-I’s program is a great one, ‘To assist Iraq to transition to a vibrant self-sustaining free market economy’."

She continued, "The benefits for my country are multifold. This shifts work directly to Iraqi firms and positively impacts our country’s economy by dealing with firms owned by Iraqis who have direct participation in the contract performance and who are employing other Iraqis."

Mid afternoon, post seminar, small knots of Iraqis stayed in the room and excitedly talked. Their animation and appreciative smiles to those who had coordinated the event well indicated the success of the seminar. They’d heard the message and understood its application to both themselves, and their country’s, future.


Tom Clarkson is a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division/Project and Contracting Office public affairs team in Iraq. Requests for more information or pictures of higher resolution may be directed to him at (540) 665-5344 or Email requests sent to:

For more information on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq, visit


Your attention is invited to the accompanying story regarding a good seminar - held today here in Iraq - of great enthusiasm and excitement by a number of brave Iraqis eager to help this country grow!!!!!!!

Tom Clarkson

LTC, Army (Ret)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,

Gulf Region Division

Public Affairs Office

Commercial: (540) 665-5344

Iraqna: 0790-192-5759


"To make a difference, dare to be different."

Instilling Competitive Business Practices in Iraq - A Women's Business Seminar

Attachment: InstillingCompetitiveBusinessPracticesinIraq.doc (0.14 MB)

Clarkson, Tommy G GRD

Saturday, August 12, 2006