JBB officials cut ribbon at Container Repair Yard
Story and photos by Spc. Michael Camacho
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Military and civilian officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand opening of the new Container Repair Yard March 22 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The ceremony marked a milestone in the growth and development of the Miran Village Company, an Iraqi contractor, said Lt. Col. Chris Mohan, commander of the 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"It started out with the requirement to repair 150 containers per month and they've grown their business so we've grown their capability," he said. "Now they're repairing 2,000 containers per month."
The CRY outgrew their old area and needed a larger workspace in order to meet a higher demand of repaired trailers, said Mohan, a Carthage, N.C., native. The expansion of the facility and their ability to train and recruit workers helped the CRY meet the demand for repaired trailers, he said.
It took roughly six months to coordinate the CRY relocation and expansion, which was a joint effort between Army, Air Force and the Iraqi people, said Mohan.
"It's all about responsible drawdown," he said. "In order to rapidly ship equipment out, we have to have seaworthy containers."
JBB serves as the major logistics hub in Iraq, and repairing the containers in country, instead of sending them to Kuwait, saves the U.S. military time and money, he said.
The completion of the CRY expansion and relocation served as a tribute to the Miran Village Company's employees' hard work, said 1st Lt. Theresa Fouda, the adjutant with the 80th Ord. Bn. out of Fort Lewis, Wash.
"Since inception, the Container Repair Yard has repaired (more than) 10,000 unserviceable containers to a seaworthy status," she said.
In August 2008, the Iraqi Based Industrial Zone began developing plans for a CRY at JBB, said Fouda, a Seattle native. The CRY offered a significant benefit for both the Iraqi economy and U.S. forces in Iraq, she said.
The yard's mission is to repair unserviceable containers to a seaworthy status, so they can be used to transport supplies back to the U.S., while providing training and employment opportunities to local nationals.
The Miran Village Company is able to repair containers to both U.S. and Coast Guard standards, said Mohan.
"On August 20, 2008, the Miran Village Company, owned by Hashim Mahdi, was awarded the container-repair contract with an initial annual requirement of repairing 1,440 containers," said Fouda.
The CRY at JBB hired a local labor force trained in accordance with the Iraqi government's minister of labor and social affairs certification standards for welding, carpentry and other skills, said Fouda.
"In April 2009, the former Container Repair Yard area and fence line was expanded to allow for increased container flow," she said. "In May 2009, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing approved the former CRY as an Iraqi Free Zone, which allowed Hashim to manage the area with minimal U.S. supervision. This month, the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group approved the new Container Repair Yard site as an Iraqi Free Zone."
Initially, the CRY was capable of repairing 20 containers per month with a work force of 20 local nationals, said Fouda. By August 2009, the operating capability increased to 250 containers repaired per month with a work force of 70 local nationals, she said.
In September 2009, the Regional Contracting Command-Balad, and both the 13th SC(E) and 332nd EAW commands held meetings to discuss the increased need for containers in preparation for Operation Responsible Drawdown, said Fouda. As a result, the CRY was to be relocated to a larger area to increase work productivity.
"By the end of September, the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron obtained an area to expand the Container Repair Yard from three acres to 28 acres, and the 37th Engineer Battalion began preparation on the new site," she said.
Mohan said the CRY has played an important part in the 13th SC(E)'s mission and helped give back to the redeveloping Iraqi infrastructure, providing for both the Iraqi people and the U.S. military efforts for the upcoming drawdown.
"The Container repair yard has repaired over 10,000 containers, which has directly contributed to our success during the initial phases of Operation Responsible Drawdown," he said.
Hashim Mahdi, the Container Repair Yard managing director with Miran Village Company and a Bakr Village, Iraq, native, Air Force Col. David DeMartino, commander of the 332nd Expeditionary Mission Support Group and a Lorton, Va., native, Lt. Col. Chris Mohan, commander of the 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Carthage, N.C., native, and Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commander of the 13th SC(E) and a Mansfield, Ohio, native, cut the ribbon at a ceremony held to mark the grand opening of the Container Repair Yard March 22 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Camacho)