News: Local trucking company assists small Army bases
Story by Sgt. Keith Vanklompenberg
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The small bases in Iraq, known as spokes to the larger bases' hubs, survive on the logistics and sustainment support from those nearby hubs.
The Soldiers at forward operating bases Nimir and Heider in northern Iraq rely on the 506th Quartermaster Company and Elta Company trucks at Contingency Operating Location Sykes, Iraq, to maintain mission readiness.
Ali Can Birbiri, the COL Sykes site manager with Elta Company, said he came to Iraq from Adana, Turkey, in 2005, and has been working with Soldiers at COL Sykes since 2006.
"I do weekly supply runs at Heider and Nimir," he said.
Birbiri said his main focus is with the class one, or food and water, warehouse. His team delivers food supplies to the outlying bases that are too small to have their own warehouses, he said.
Although Sykes is a hub for the nearby outposts, it lacks some resources itself, said Birbiri. He said the Soldiers at the class one warehouse did not have enough storage space, so he provided truck trailers for them to use. Birbiri and Elta Company have also lent trailers to Nimir and Heider for their food storage, he said.
The Elta team at Sykes consists of Birbiri, 13 drivers and three mechanics, all working closely with the Logistics Task Force of the 506th Quartermaster Company, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"They're helping me and I'm helping them," said Birbiri.
Because so much of the mission depends on reliable transportation and Elta trucks move out in convoys with trucks from the 506th, Birbiri's mechanics work alongside the Army mechanics.
"All of the motorpool is working together," he said.
Staff Sgt. Cristian Solano, the platoon sergeant with the Logistics Task Force of the 506th and an Elizabethtown, N.J., native, said the partnership has been beneficial to both sides, and Birbiri's professionalism has played a large role in their mission success.
"He takes a lot of pride in his work," said Solano. "Our trucks never go down."
Solano said Birbiri does more than just supervise his team and act as a liaison between them and their military partners; he has also gone out on nearly every convoy.
Birbiri said he does his best to help out the Army, and the Army has done a great job looking after his team and keeping it safe. He said he cannot recall a time when he was put in harm's way since starting the job.
"This contract started in 2005 and not one thing has happened," he said.