News: Rebuilding Iraq by Vehicle Demilitarization
By Maj. Charles Rote
Regimental Support Squadron
2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – The Regimental Support Squadron 'Muleskinners,' 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, made a small difference today to the economic well being of Iraq. Dec. 21, 14 Iraqi workers reported for work as part of an equipment demilitarization crew. They will work in the Defense Reutilization Material Office yard reducing damaged and unusable vehicles into scrap metal which will be sold to an outside business and eventually find its way into an Iraqi foundry.
Since arriving in theater the 'Mule Skinners' took an idea to put Iraqis to work, and in collaboration with the Iraqi Business and Industrial Zone as well as Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, it began to come together.
A signing ceremony at the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office on Oct. 31 marked the start of a Multi-National Force – Iraq initiative to improve the living standards of area citizens through increased employment opportunities. The DRMO received tools were received, hired employees, and established facilities in preparation for the 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 technical oversight, escort and transportation support for the Iraqis during their workdays on the base.
"This is getting the Iraqis one step closer to standing on their own" said Spc. Robert Edsel from Snellville, Ga., (the inspector of the demilitarized vehicles and the escort for the Iraqis) when questioned about the project. 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 workforce.
The Soldiers went through a lot to make this happen as well attending a week long training course at the beginning of the program taught by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service representatives. Team members have also undergone security and escort training. Through the course of the program they 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., maintenance troop commander, Regimental Support Squadron, "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 American or Iraqi army on a regular basis to provide logistics support. Lt. Col. Danny Tilzey, Regimental Support Squadron commander, stated at the contract signing, "jobs contribute to building a dynamic citizen, which ultimately helps society become more productive."
In addition to the initial reception, orientation, safety courses, and demonstrations, the Iraqi team managed to demilitarize 16 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle turrets in just hours. When they reach full capacity they should be able to process several quarter-ton truck-sized vehicles or their equivalent daily. With the prices offered for scrap metal this idea should quickly become a profitable enterprise.