278th RFS dolls up Marez for transition

Story and photo by Sgt. Chad E. Menegay
196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq — As the U.S. military works to responsibly draw down its presence in Iraq, Army personnel work alongside Iraqi and foreign national skilled-laborers to clean up, secure and beautify Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.

“It’s a relief to know that the site is being given back,” said 1st Lt. George Hatch, the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program project manager and deputy mayor for the Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Chattanooga, Tenn., native.

“The main thing is to give back to the Iraqis something that’s better than the way it was before or at least, in our opinion, better than when we took it over,” Hatch said.

The RFS, out of Winchester, Tenn., oversees and manages a contracted and subcontracted work force of hundreds of local national and foreign national workers, coordinating with them and checking their production.

“Soldiers’ skills are utilized to oversee and inspect contract work,” Hatch said. “If a Soldier is an electrician, he’ll check up on the electric work around the base,”

The labor force does upgrades on buildings, electric work, rooftop repair, painting, plumbing, carpentry and landscaping.

“You name it, they do it,” said Sgt. Maj. Lasonjia Stewart, operations sergeant major for the 26th Brigade Support Battalion out of Fort Stewart, Ga., and a Charleston, Miss., native.

“Yesterday a shower head had fell off,” Stewart said. “Water was on the floor. A Soldier went over and reported it and they were out within the next 15 minutes to fix it. They’re speedy and quick,” Stewart said.

The 278th RFS responds to work orders with a high rate of customer satisfaction, according to Sgt. Jodi Frame, a meteorologist and utilities noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop out of Winchester, Tenn., and a Shelbyville, Tenn., native.

All of the base’s foreign and local nationals are proud, efficient workers who have no problem working with and providing the needs of U.S. Soldiers, Frame said.

The work force also provides security for U.S. personnel, by erecting and repairing concrete barriers and Hercules Engineering Solutions Consortium (HESCO) barriers, which are prefabricated steel boxes filled with dirt.

There’s a push not only to make repairs and secure the base, but also to give the Iraqis a cleaner environment, Hatch said.

COB Marez has a 36-ton incinerator that can burn up to 80 percent of the trash produced.

The RFS will continue to improve the location for the future transition to Iraqi control.

One COB construction project that many Soldiers pointed to as a symbol of progress is the new, multimillion dollar, air traffic control tower. The tower was built for the purpose of being used by Mosul’s international airport in the future, Hatch said.



news photo
Haseddin Kapar, a mason with the Department of Public Works mason, repairs a concrete wall May 4 at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq. The Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) works alongside and oversees contractors and subcontractors like DPW to improve conditions at COB Marez. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)