JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Local nationals from areas around Joint Base Balad travel here every day to work with the Department of Public Works, enabling Soldiers to focus on their missions.
Soldiers of the 547th Transportation Company work alongside these local nationals up to three times a day around JBB.
The 547th is split into platoons which cover different areas of the base. One platoon works security for the Iraqi Free Zone and recycling center, another does security for the commanding general, command sergeant major and VIP's, and checks the meeting locations. The third platoon handles security for the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at the DPW and the joint operations center.
"The overall mission is to in-process the local nationals, get them to their job site, escort them to their details and monitor them," said Sgt. Megan M. Jackson, a food services specialist with the 547th and escort for the DPW program.
Pfc. Daniel A. Jones, a light wheel mechanic with the 547thTrans. Co. and an escort for the program, said the Soldiers escort the local nationals to ensure their safety, as well as the safety and overall security of the base and equipment.
Jones, on his second deployment to Iraq, said he likes to work with the local nationals on some of the jobs. He said when Soldiers work with the local nationals, the locals tend to work harder.
Because Soldiers are the first to contact local nationals at the entry control point, they must act as liaisons and try to make a positive impression, despite the cultural barrier, said the 547th's 1st Sgt. Terrance Smith.
Jackson said she no longer worries about going outside the gate, or knowing what to expect. The job has increased her understanding of the Iraqi people and their culture, she said.
"I get to learn something out of my scope of area," said Jones. "I get to interact with the civilians."