JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Officials with the Mayor's Cell and Shaykh Shehab Ahmed Al-Tmime celebrated the opening of the new oil service center with a ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 8 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The expanded service center moved from the edge of the base to a more central location off Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Where they are now is known as the vehicle maintenance complex," said Sgt. Maj. Charles Scriven, the senior enlisted adviser with the Iraqi-Based Industrial Zone, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Columbia, S.C., native.
The move was made to accommodate a changing contract with the Iraqi-owned center, said Air Force Master Sgt. Alan Chaney, the contract officer representative for the Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.
Chaney, a Baltimore native, said the new contract will expand the center's work to cover all non-tactical vehicles at JBB, so the new location had to be larger. They will slowly expand their service from 600 vehicles to 1,700 per year, said Chaney.
"We moved to this location in preparation for that expansion," he said.
In the few days since the opening, the workers have already seen business pick up, most likely due to convenience, said Chaney.
"This is a bit more user-friendly and easy to find," he said.
The locally-owned oil service center provides level 10 maintenance, which includes oil changes, tire rotations, windshield wiper changes and other basic maintenance, said Scriven.
The construction of the new site involved a partnership with the Air Force, Army civil engineers and support from the IBIZ.
The IBIZ acts as a liaison between the base and local businesses, said Scriven.
"Our mission is to provide a safe working environment for the Iraqis," he said.
Operating a business on a U.S. military base can be beneficial to the shaykhs, workers and the local economy in general, Scriven said.
"One: it provides jobs; two: it allows them a safe environment; and three: this is experience," he said.
Scriven said the IBIZ provides this work to the local nationals to help them succeed after the U.S. military is gone.
"There still are going to be vehicles, so there will be a need for maintenance on vehicles, a need for fuel," he said. "These are the kind of services we have that are being provided by the Iraqi citizens."