War on Terrorism

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Iraq: Guard member has not so typical deployment in Iraq

By Army National Guard Sgt. Scott Raper
149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

BAGHDAD - At Victory Base Complex here several civilian companies work to assist the military with the basics of what is essentially a fully functional city. The cooperation is vital and someone must be the go-between to keep up the relationship.

Coordinating the operation of a military base between civilians and the military overseas is not an easy task, and there is only so much a Soldier can do to handle such a job, but that is where Army 1st Lt. Geremy Harper comes into play.

“It’s my job to ensure that necessary services are provided and maintained by the contractors on VBC,” said Harper, a member of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

Harper’s position falls under the Directorate of Public Works in the brigade. He is responsible for the interaction with a contractor that provides such services as plumbing, electrical and construction. Their employees respond to problems ranging from a burnt out light bulb and faulty air conditioners to water main breaks on the base perimeter.

Harper must be aware of all the issues that the contractor deals with to ensure coordination with military assets to fix the problem.

His daily assignments include formal proposals for minor construction and repair projects. He also must include plans and applicable budget concerns to meet the needs of the military and the base.

Administrative work keeps him busy, but as he said, “something interesting happens every day. The best day is a boring day. It’s our job and theirs to keep life, health and [the] safety of Soldiers in mind.”

Soldiers of the 149th MEB have not been in Iraq long, but Harper is amazed at the amount of work his section has had to do. As soon as they become accustomed to the workload things change, as VBC shrinks in preparation for the redeployment of U.S. Forces from Iraq. Harper said as ideas of the shutdown shift, so does his operation – and it is not always a smooth transition.

“The hardest part of the drawdown is that we can’t fix everything that needs to be fixed,” he said.

As an engineer officer back home, he said he is usually doing all the work, from making the plan to executing it. However, he is grateful for the help that the contractors provide, calling them great people to work with. It can sometimes be a struggle he said, especially missing his three-year-old daughter, but being part of something historical means a lot to him.

He credits his fellow Soldiers such as Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Brown for the camaraderie on the job day in and day out.

“Every time I leave the office, I take my radio because we are on 24/7, but it is the job satisfaction that makes me enjoy it. It is fun and exciting work.”

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