American Forces Press Service
Oct. 31, 2007 - A signing ceremony at the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office here yesterday marked the start of a Multinational Force Iraq initiative to improve the living standards of area citizens through increased employment opportunities. The Iraqi Business, or I-BIZ, program aims to engage local contractors by hiring local Iraqis to perform supervised work on bases throughout the country.
"This is a great effort to employ local Iraqis and support our 'Iraqis First' policy. It combines our desire to appropriately demilitarize and dispose of items that are no longer economically repairable with our intent to put more Iraqis to work," said Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson, deputy chief of staff for resources and sustainment, during the kick-off ceremony.
In partnership with the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, seven soldiers from the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, undertook an intense two-week course to be the first to participate in this effort. With their supervision and leadership from the DRMO chief, Frank Valdez, Iraqis will demilitarize Humvees and other government property. Iraqi workers will earn money to support their families and ensure expended U.S. military property cannot later be used by insurgents.
"The partnership between DRMS and RSS brought many different parties together and the end result of our cooperation will be Iraqis going to work," said Navy Capt. Lynn Brantley, officer in charge of DRMS Iraq. "They will learn a skill that benefits them as well as the U.S. with the expansion of demilitarization operations here in Iraq."
Army Lt. Col. Danny Tilzey, Regimental Support Squadron commander, agreed. "Jobs contribute to building a dynamic citizen, which ultimately helps society become more productive," he said. "I believe we think big, start small and move out quickly establishing job opportunities for Iraqis.
"In my opinion, the government of Iraq and its coalition partners need to focus on building an employment foundation to establish economic opportunities, which will ultimately lead to an Iraqi work force that has a sense of achievement," he continued. "Honest, hard work will develop citizens that are proud and are not steered to joining (anti-government) organizations."
Tilzey said he looks forward to watching as the Iraqi workers grow the demilitarization project into a self-sufficient enterprise.
Anxious to get started with the new venture, Army Cpl. Jeremy Gentile of the RSS said he is looking forward to being able to interact in a work environment with Iraqi tradesmen, who soon will be cutting apart all types of damaged armor, vehicle engines and other property and equipment.
(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)