Where family, friends, and strangers can come to follow the life of a soldier as he tours the globe.

10.22.2007

Iraqis, Soldiers Get to Work

October 1, 2007

Iraqis, Soldiers Get To Work
Initiative to train Iraqis gets under way
Multi-National Division – North PAO
By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment


TIKRIT, Iraq – In Salah Al-Din Province, where 2.3 million Iraqis live, few people have reliable electricity, and even fewer have running water. U.S. Soldiers have teamed up with local Iraqis and U.S. Government agencies to create a program that will train some of the people who live in the Maryland-sized province to get the skills they need to rebuild their country.

The program aims to put Iraqis to work –help train them and open the door to obtaining U.S. Government contracts, or starting their own contracting companies.

The program is known as IBIZ, or Iraqi Business and Industrial Zone. Construction on the first project, the Joint Regional Contract Center, began April 16, and was completed May 30. The completed project, officially named the Sal Al-Din Business Center, is a large complex adjacent to the Entry Control Point on Contingency Operation Base Speicher.
“The idea started earlier this spring between the military, the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Joint Regional Contract Center,” said Capt. Jim Golby, the commander of Headquarters Support Company, 25th Special Troops Battalion stationed here. “The group got together and decided to come up with this integrated concept.”
The Sal Al-Din Business center consists of three facilities. The first facility is the JRCC office that gives Iraqis access to U.S. Government contracts that they can do on the COB with increased protection from Soldiers. The second area of the center is the material transfer point for Turkish and Iraqi contractors to deliver material to a rock crusher and concrete batch plant for making force protection barriers. The third facility is the Kellogg Brown and Root Skills Training Area.

Golby, who has been involved with the project since its inception, said there are 35 Iraqi workers hired by KBR to do on the job training. They will learn plumbing, electrical and carpentry skills to U.S. and British standards. The aim of this training is to enable them to become qualified for better paying jobs on the COB. He estimates that the project, which is still in its infancy, could save the U.S. government $5-10 million this year.
There are approximately 100 Iraqis working at the site. Golby expects there to be an additional 55 workers in the program by January. These new workers will have opportunities to learn skills in welding, heating ventilation and air conditioning, and small engine repair for generators. He estimates that eventually there will be around 500 employees working at IBIZ.

When IBIZ is fully operational, planners estimate it will save the U.S. $70 million and infuse around $19 million into the Iraqi economy annually, by awarding contracts to lower costing Iraqi labor. According to IBIZ planning documents, the facilities were projected to cost $685,000 to build, and approximately $1.5 million per year to operate.
“This is a tremendous initiative for the Iraqis,” said Golby. “It allows them to get skills training. It allows them to develop economic capacity and get jobs.”
The initiative, which provides jobs and bolsters the local economy, didn’t come about easily.
“We had to integrate this project into our entry control point, which was a major task,” said Golby. “We went through a lot of hard work, but thankfully I’ve had a lot of dedicated Soldiers and NCOs who have spent 12-hour days out in the sun, sometimes in 125-degree heat who have secured this area and made it a very safe place for Iraqis to work and American Soldiers to be as well.”
Another challenge Golby mentioned was getting a variety of different agencies to work together. Hard work and dedication have made it a success, he said. One part of that success was getting village leaders involved in recruiting. Another significant hurdle was cleared when the provincial government gave its blessing to the project.
Not only will Iraqis gain work skills that can allow them to work on the COB, or through government contracts, but they will also be able to take their skills into the local economy and continue to rebuild their country, Golby said.
“Local contracts are good because it helps to develop their businesses in the local economy,” said Capt. George Plansky, the contracting officer with the JRCC, Tikrit. “It actually puts people to work. You may have a contract with 20 to 25 guys who are being put to work. The rock crusher is being operated by local Iraqis. When there is more money pumped into the local economy, there’s less guys in the streets trying to plant Improvised Explosive Devices and stuff like that.”
In addition to providing skills training and alternatives to destructive activities, Plansky says IBIZ offers hope.
“We have put a lot of Iraqis to work,” said Plansky. “We have made a lot of people happy that we are employing people and it is giving them hope. Instead of just buying commodities, we get these guys to construct things or produce things such as gravel and concrete. Those kinds of activities for us will eventually spawn activities of the same caliber on the outside. If they can do it here in a secure environment, they will start to have impacts on their local economy.”
Golby and his Soldiers are getting ready to go home after their 15-month deployment here. During that time, they have built relationships with the locals, and given something back to the people of Iraq.
“I think this is an outstanding initiative. I spent my last deployment over here as a scout platoon leader facing IEDs and small arms attacks on a fairly regular basis,” Golby said. “This time I have been able to work on this initiative, and I think the things we are doing here are the sort of things we need to do to help give Iraqis the chance to set up a working economy and a government that can sustain itself.









An Iraqi laborer uses a rip saw to trim some molding at the Salah Al-Din skills training center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher October 17. The Skills center trains local Iraqis in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills so they can work on the COB, or use their skills to do contracting work in their villages. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)






A small Iraqi flag flutters in the wind, while an Iraqi laborer works on a remodeling project at the Salah Al-Din skills training center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher October 17. The Skills center trains local Iraqis in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills so they can work on the COB, or use their skills to do contracting work in their villages. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)











An Iraqi laborer sands a mirror frame for a remodeling project at the Salah Al-Din skills training center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher October 17. The Skills center trains local Iraqis in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical skills so they can work on the COB, or use their skills to do contracting work in their villages. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)












Iraqi contractors use a front-end loader to transfer materials into the concrete batch plant at the Salah Al-Din Business Center on Contingency Operations Base Speicher October 17. The concrete plant uses materials to produce force protection barriers for the COB. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Eric A. Rutherford)

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful story! It's so good to hear of the positive results we're having over there. These folks just want to live a good life, just like us.

Mom

22 October, 2007 21:06

 
Blogger dani probably said...

Hey,

I hope this message finds you well.

My name's Danielle, and I'm a reporter for the Boston Globe writing about soldiers who are taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. According to founder Chris Baty, the number of soldiers who registered has increased.

I was hoping we could get in touch - I'll accomodate to your schedule, and would like to hear about your upcoming novel and your work last year, and the experience of NaNoWriMo in another country, during war.

Feel free to get in touch via Blogger, and I'll send my work address. I'm also registered for NaNoWriMo as daniprobably.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Dani

29 October, 2007 22:09

 
Blogger Gunslinger said...

Dani,

Sounds great. I am having trouble getting ahold of you through either blogger, or NaNo.

My email is ericswarjournal@hotmail.com

Thanks for the interest!

Eric

02 November, 2007 18:51

 
Anonymous Tricia said...

A few months ago I read Marcus Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor. I got really interested in what it was about so I started looking on the internet about the war and came across some interesting blogs, yours being one of them. A month or two later I found Tim Lewis's blog. I used to date one of his friends so I kind of knew him. I started reading it and noticed he mentioned a blog that sounded really familiar. Sure enough, it was yours. How neat is that?

17 February, 2008 02:20

 

Post a Comment

<< Home