The new center is the product of a Pentagon initiative to help reduce violence by getting the Iraqi and Afghan economies back on their feet — the premise being that people with jobs are less likely to support their families by working for insurgents. The Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which was set up in 2006, has led delegations of foreign businesses to both Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Google and YouTube trip to Iraq last month. The Task Force was also the organization behind the study that reported earlier this year that Afghanistan has almost $1 trillion in mineral deposits.
Though small, the training center will play a role in accelerating growth in Iraq. Imagine trying to run a modern business without anyone who knows their way around Microsoft Office. Or trying to run a government ministry without anyone who can get a Windows server up and running. Or trying to get a banking sector functioning in the absence of workers with basic computer skills.
Until now, Iraqis had to travel to Jordan or Lebanon for Microsoft certification. The cost of such trips put them out of reach for most aspiring system admins. With a learning center in Baghdad, all that changes. “It’s a small thing,” said Stan Lumish, a former JDS Uniphase engineering executive who leads the Task Force’s science and technology program. “But it’s a big thing for the country.”
[Image via Flickr user The U.S. Army]
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