JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq —The 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and the Miran Village Company, an Iraqi-owned and operated business, signed a multi-million dollar contract during a ceremony Sept. 29, at the container repair yard here at Joint Base Balad.
The $31 million contract calls for the repair of roughly 30,000 shipping containers in the course of the next fiscal year, to facilitate the responsible drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq.
"The new contract represents a remarkable opportunity and achievement in terms of supporting Multi-National Force-Iraq's responsible drawdown requirements," said Air Force Maj. Jack L. Nemcef, the commander of the regional contracting center here.
The previous contract covered the repair of 3,000 shipping containers annually.
Repairing used containers has proven cost-effective for Coalition forces because, at an average cost of $5,000 for a new container, the savings add up to anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per container, said Maj. Brian Steele, the comptroller for the 13th ESC.
MNF-I's economic engagement strategy calls for Iraqi businesses and industries to receive priority, and this large-scale contract fulfills that requirement, said Nemcef, a Newport News, Va., native.
"The speed in which we were able to get this contract in place — in less than 30 days — represents a truly joint, focused and well-coordinated effort," said Nemcef.
Hashim Abdalmir Mhadi, the owner of the Miran Village Company, said the occasion brings good prospects for the families of Iraq.
"We have more than 80 families represented in our work force, with each worker earning an average of $700 U.S. a month," said Mhadi. "We hope to have the same salary for more than 600 families in the near future."
Not only does the new contract provide jobs, but the Ministry of Labor certifies the laborers as carpenters and welders, which helps them get jobs elsewhere after the contract expires, said Capt. Jason Vivian, action officer for the container repair yard, with the 80th Ordnance Battalion, 90th Sustainment Brigade, 13th ESC.
"The community surrounding JBB is largely a poor farming community and this influx of money and jobs will allow for expansion and growth," said Vivian.
The contract faced challenges from its inception.
"The biggest challenges were the constraints placed by the current timeline for withdrawal," said Steele, a Pittsfield, Mass., native. "We don't have much time to work with and we have more than 100,000 (Soldiers and contractors) to move out of the country.
"In addition to the timeline, we also wanted to get this done within the fiscal year, so we had to work fast to beat the October 1st deadline," he said.
Despite the time and effort put into the project and the work ahead, Mhadi said he is grateful the Iraqis will have a chance to rebuild their country and reinvigorate their economy.
Mhadi said, "This is actually a great opportunity for the families of Iraq to make a new, bright future for themselves."