News: Airman facilitates brighter future for Iraq
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeff Morris deployed from a cool climate in Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Iraq, where temperatures reach 100 degrees many days of the year.
However, the sergeant kept his cool and set a steady work pace without breaking a sweat.
Since July, Morris outsourced 15 contracts worth almost $1.8 million to local Iraqi companies under Joint Contracting Command — Iraq's theater-wide requirements construction flight.
Some projects that crossed his desk were requirements to repair, refurbish and reconstruct 13 Iraqi police stations that needed significant work after being attacked by insurgents.
Additionally, Morris awarded a contract to refurbish a water treatment plant in Zafaraniya, Iraq. Upon completion, the plant provided potable water for 13 factories and more than two million people in that city.
A second contract provided for repair to a sewage system with broken pipes on six streets in northeastern Baghdad; the affected streets had standing sewage and posed significant health risks. This project has provided employment for 77 Iraqis and, once complete, more than 4,000 citizens will enjoy sanitary conditions in their neighborhoods.
According to Maj. Seth Hamilton, JCC-I infrastructure support branch chief and native of Lacey, Wash., "Sgt. Morris regularly assists his U.S. government customers in finding local contractors who can accomplish quality work and provide the best value for the dollar, though not without obstacles."
The contract process in Iraq does not always flow as smoothly as it does in the U.S.
"My biggest challenge here is working with international vendors because of the language and cultural barriers," Morris said. "We are more conscious of deadlines and timeframes; the vendors are much more laid back in their approach to getting things."
Despite the glitches, Hamilton is more than pleased with his Airman's efforts.
"These contracts are outstanding examples of how the U.S. government, with the help of Sgt. Morris, is helping the government of Iraq to get up and running again," said Hamilton, who is deployed from Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
Morris, a contracting officer for the past eight years, loves his job and takes great pride in what he does. The Hector, Ark., native said, "The most rewarding aspect of the job is knowing I have a hand in helping to rebuild Iraq, specifically the Iraqi police stations in and around Baghdad and basic sanitation projects."
For the major, working with Morris is just as rewarding.
"The contracts also highlight how one Airman's actions at a tactical level can have positive impact in the strategic arena, and represent only a small sample of the work he has accomplished since arriving in theater," said Hamilton. "I can't tell you how truly talented Sgt. Morris is. I am very proud to be serving with this amazing professional. He certainly must feel great pride in helping the Iraqi people build a brighter future."