Rebuilding Iraq begins in Lawton

LAWTON--A Lieutenant Colonel from Fort Sill headed to Iraq as part of a State Department rebuilding mission is getting ideas for his mission from local governments.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Madison, who recently came to Fort Sill from Fort Leavenworth, said the mission he's getting ready for will help build local governments in Iraq.

"The biggest problem in Iraq is the central government controlled everything in the past," LTC Madison said.  "We're trying to get that control down to the local level to get local leaders involved in making decisions."

In order to make that happen, LTC Madison is taking lessons he's learned from observing everything from Monday's county commissioners meeting to school board meetings to church councils.

"It's not my job to rebuild their province," he said.  "It's to help them rebuild their province.  I hope that the ideas I gather here will help them move toward that goal."

Madison said he also hopes to build a network of connections in local government to serve as a sounding board if he or his mission run into a tight spot in Iraq.  He's hoping those in local government here will be able to provide ideas on the fly when he's in Iraq.

"I think the Iraqis want to have a voice and see their lives improve," he said.  "It's good to see people stand up and take a stand for what they believe in.  In countries where in the past that might've been every dangerous, that shows you democracy, freedom, liberty is truly growing when people can do that."

LTC Madison leaves on the State Department provincial reconstruction mission on July 8th.  He expects it to last up to a year.