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Monday, November 24, 2008

U.S. upgrading key Iraqi naval base as part of
$1 billion in infrastructure projects

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military is modernizing a base for the Iraq Navy.

Officials said the upgraded naval base would be located in Umm Qasr near the southern city of Basra. They said the enhanced facility would include a new pier and seawall complex.

"What makes it unique is that I'm an air force officer managing an Iraqi Navy project for a U.S. Army organization," U.S. Air Force Maj. Dee Katzer, project manager, said. "Talk about joint and multi-National."

Officials said the project was set at $52 million and financed by the Iraqi government under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the naval base would be completed in September 2009.

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The naval base was part of more than $1 billion worth of U.S. infrastructure projects in Iraq. Many of the projects have been overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Working for USACE has been a very unique experience since in the past I'd always been the customer, hounding the corps to complete projects on time and under budget," Katzer said. "Now I am on the team providing the service and giving the customer the quality they pay for."

Officials said the U.S. project would enable the Umm Qasr base to accommodate larger vessels and enhance security. The Iraq Navy, based in Umm Qasr, plans to double its size over the next two years.

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