News: JBB CRY to shut down in May
Story by Sgt. Edwin Gray
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – In November 2003, with approximately 80 Iraqi employees, the container repair yard was opened here on Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The purpose of the CRY is to repair containers deemed unserviceable and return them to a seaworthy status in order to be used to transport equipment and troops’ gear home, while providing training and employment opportunities to local Iraqi citizens.
Service members, Iraqi nationals, leaders and workers joined together to award and honor the work and accomplishments of the Iraqi workers, staff, and the troops at the Miran Village Company completion ceremony April 25 at the Sustainer Theater here.
Without college degrees, work history or prior knowledge of operating a CRY, Iraqi nationals teamed up with U.S. service members and repaired more than 31,000 containers since 2003.
With the training and opportunity received through the MVC, many of the workers now have a work history that gives them a better chance to be hired into future employment, said Hashim, the operator for the MVC, a member of the Contractor Federation, and a Dujail, Iraq, native.
The MVC’s goal is to minimize the unemployment rate in Iraq and to give Iraqi workers the job skills and new careers to contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq. Through the MVC’s help, all the workers will receive certifications that enable many of them to find employment or start their own businesses.
“Of the 450, 310 of those have been certified through the Ministry of Labor of Iraq to go outside and open up their own businesses and their own jobs doing either carpentry work, blacksmith work or painting,” said 1st Lt. Jon Hatcher, the officer-in-charge and the contract officer representative for the CRY, a soldier with the 289th Quartermaster Company, 77th Special Troops Battalion, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and a San Antonio, Texas, native. “With the closure of the container repair yard, it is allowing these personnel to go out there and be productive citizens of society and to help toward building the new Iraq that they all really strongly believe in.”
Because of the current reposturing of U.S. troops in Iraq, the CRY is schedule to close down in May. Although the yard is scheduled to close, the workers are ambitiously hopeful for a bright future.
Hashim said that because God gave the workers hands to work with and because they have an education in their job, the workers aren’t worried about being able to find employment.
The experience has not only set a foundation for the Iraqi nationals to be introduced to new trades, but it also introduced both troops and Iraqi nationals to each other’s language and cultures.
“The experience with the Iraqis here, has been phenomenal,” Hatcher said. “We have built a major mutual understanding of each other and cooperation with each other. We are all much closer than we realized.”
The Iraqi workers have relieved troops of worries about how to transport the equipment and personal gear, and they have also gained financial growth, trust in service members and a working relationship with the U.S.
“They’ll tell you about the opportunities they have outside of here,” Hatcher said. “We’ve supported over 500 families through this mission.”
With a mutual goal at hand, troops and the workers at the Miran Village Company together bridged a gap between two cultures and accomplished a mission. From hesitant steps toward starting the project to confident ambitions of continuing until the completion of the project, both the troops and Iraqi nationals elevated their understandings of one another to work together toward a mutual goal. The CRY represents how much can be accomplished by understanding and respecting each others differences.
“The Miran Village Company is an astonishing example of what we can accomplish together when we walk side-by-side, shoulder–to-shoulder, hand-in-hand with respect,” said Lt. Col. Debra E. Jenkins, commander of the 352nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th ESC, and a Montgomery, Ala., native.