By Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Singsank
1st Marine Logistics Group
CAMP MEJID, Iraq – Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.
Marines with Maintenance Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 1st Marine Logistics Group, conducted an Iraqi partnership Dec. 31, 2008. The CLB-2 mechanics taught Iraqis basic vehicle maintenance.
"This is the first time we worked with Iraqi Soldiers at their camp instead of our maintenance area," said Gunnery Sgt. Duane E. Black, motor transportation maintenance platoon commander, CLB-2, 1st MLG. "We can train more of their mechanics at the Iraqi maintenance bay because they all can't come over to our shop."
For more than a year, Iraqi mechanics here have been traveling to the American side of the base for Humvee maintenance training. No more than five Iraqi soldiers would show up every Wednesday to learn about maintaining their military vehicles.
During the last year, Marines have been standing back and advising instead of maintaining the vehicles for them.
"We're here to watch over the Iraqi soldiers and observe them work on Humvees," said Lance Cpl. Jaimey C. Syvruv, 22, Blanchardville, Wis., motor transportation mechanic, CLB-2, 1st MLG. "We are standing back and letting them do the work so they can become more self sufficient."
The Iraqi soldiers have made a significant amount of progress to the point where they can fix Humvees without Marines standing next to them teaching mechanical maintenance skills step by step.
"I've seen improvement over the last few months," Lance Cpl. Cody M. Carpenter, 21, Baton Rouge, La., MT mechanic, CLB-2, 1st MLG. "The Iraqi soldiers have retained all the skills and information we taught them."
The Iraqi soldiers are now able to install all major components, repair common mechanical problems and maintain the vehicles they use on a daily basis.
"Before the Americans came, we didn't know a lot about vehicle maintenance," said Iraqi Warrant Officer Amar Muhammed Rasheed, command center maintenance chief officer, 7th Iraqi Army Division. "Because they have trained us, we're now completely capable of doing the job on our own."
The Marine mechanics only work with the Iraqis a few hours a week, but have recently noticed a significant difference in the way the Iraqi vehicles look and perform.
"From August 2008 to now, we've seen a huge difference in the shape of the Iraqi army's vehicles," said Black, 38, Marceline, Mo. "They take pride in keeping their vehicles up and running."
With all the mechanical knowledge the Marines have taught the Iraqi soldiers, when U.S. forces leave Iraq, they'll know the Iraqi soldiers can function on their own.
"I'm very, very happy because the Americans brought the experience to fix vehicles to us," said Rasheed, 32, Baghdad, Iraq. "When the Americans leave, I will greatly miss their support and more importantly, our friendships."