JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers of the 699th Maintenance Company armament shop work around the clock to keep the weapons of the war fighters at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in fighting condition.
The 699th, out of Fort Irwin, Calif., opened its armament shop two months ago to meet the needs of the units at JBB. Since then, the shop has serviced more than 3,000 weapons, said Pfc. Carl Smith, an armament repairer and a Los Angeles native.
"We work on a wide array of weapons, from the M-9 pistol to the M-107 sniper rifle," said Smith.
He said the shop can accommodate work orders ranging from 10 or 15 weapons to an entire division's stock.
"We're a maintenance company, so we're flexible Soldiers," said Smith.
Smith said the shop provides technical inspections, gauging, depot-level repairs and modification reversal on personal and crew-served weapons, either at the shop or on location.
"If units contact us, we will come to them," he said. "It all depends on the customer."
Smith said he takes great pride in repairing weapons in a combat zone.
"These weapons are coming from the battlefield, so you know you're helping out your battle buddy," he said.
Weapons that come back from extended missions in combat situations are often in dire need of service, said Spc. Adamel Vilaro, a fire-control repairer with the 699th, and a Waterbury, Conn., native.
"We deadline a lot of weapons because they aren't maintained," said Vilaro.
He said the Soldiers in the armament shop try to show the weapon users what they are doing when they service weapons and explain the need for proper care while instructing them on basic maintenance.
"It's your weapon to take care of," said Vilaro.
The 699th armament shop is located on Marne Road, west of the post office and fuel point.
For service questions or to set up an appointment, Vilaro said units should contact the 699th Maint. Co. at 318-483-1985.