By Maj. Charles Rote, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 28, 2007 - Fourteen Iraqis reported for work in the Defense Reutilization Material Office yard last week to begin reducing damaged and unusable vehicles into scrap metal that will be sold to an outside business and eventually find its way into an Iraqi foundry. Since arriving in Iraq, the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment's Regimental Support Squadron "Muleskinners" has worked with the Iraqi Business and Industrial Zone and the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service to bring about the employment opportunity.
A signing ceremony at the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office on Oct. 31 marked the start of a Multinational Force Iraq initiative to provide jobs for area citizens. The DRMO received tools, hired employees and established facilities in preparation for the Dec. 21 opening.
On the first day of operations, recently trained Iraqis met with personnel from the Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment. The military unit will provide the Iraqi workers with technical oversight, escort and transportation support.
"This is getting the Iraqis one step closer to standing on their own," said Army Spc. Robert Edsel from Snellville, Ga., the inspector of the demilitarized vehicles and the escort for the Iraqis. As part of the growing effort to encourage partnership with the Iraqi people in rebuilding their country, the troopers will work as facilitators with the work force.
The soldiers attended a week of training taught by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service representatives. Team members have also undergone security and escort training. They've also received cultural awareness training and learned about their Iraqi counterparts in weekly group meetings.
"The Iraqi people want to succeed, and they are looking to us for help", said Capt. Derek Hoffman, from Yelm, Wash., the Regimental Support Squadron's maintenance troop commander. "By understanding this and their needs, we can provide the most effective assistance".
The goal is to build solid and stable Iraqi businesses capable of working with the U.S. and Iraqi armies to provide logistics support. "Jobs contribute to building a dynamic citizen, which ultimately helps society become more productive," Army Lt. Col. Danny Tilzey, Regimental Support Squadron commander, said at the contract signing.
After their initial reception, orientation, safety courses, and demonstrations, the Iraqi team managed to demilitarize 16 Humvee turrets in just hours. When they reach full capacity, they should be able to process several quarter-ton trucks or equivalent vehicles daily, officials said.
(Army Maj. Charles Rote serves with Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Public Affairs.)