CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Iraqi national distribution capability took a big step forward Tuesday as the Iraqi Railroad successfully picked up cargo from Iraqi Transportation Network trucks at Camp Taji and moved it to the Port of Umm Qasr.

The rail spur at Taji opened for cargo movement for the first time since 2004. A 20-car IRR train owned and operated by the Government of Iraq picked up 40 empty containers for movement to the port of Umm Qasr. The operation was an important step in an effort to linking Iraqi trucking, Iraqi rail, and Iraqi port operations.

One Iraqi with a critical role in the day's event stated the operation was a sign of Iraq's rebuilding effort. "It's our country and we want to serve our country.

Whatever it takes to do, we'll do it. So we came here to serve our country; rebuild it," Mohammed, the train's conductor said through an interpreter.

The IRR is a key piece of transportation infrastructure for Iraq according to Maj. Scott D. Meyer, Strategic Mobility - IRR Program Officer, Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Meyer said that Iraq has a geographic advantage to turn it into a hub for moving cargo from the port at Umm Qasr to Turkey, Syria and Jordan. The rail lines themselves are in good repair and Iraq has experienced operators for running the trains, Meyer added.

Meyer said that the IRR and Iraqi Transportation Network, a consortium of all Iraqi owned trucking companies, are working together to move cargo efficiently. Where the ITN is responsible for short-haul of cargo and the IRR is responsible for long-haul.

"Trucks are more efficient with short-haul and trains are more efficient with the long haul," Meyer said. As part of the Tuesday's rail operation, ITN trucks delivered the 40 containers eventually uploaded on IRR rail cars.

In addition to demonstrating transportation infrastructure progress, these initial small he rail movements will eventually prove the IRR ready for regular transportation of cargo added Meyer. He stated as the IRR moves more and more cargo for both the Iraqis and Coalition forces it offers the option to move Iraqi transporters and Coalition forces off Iraq's roads.

Upon arrival in Umm Qasr, the IRR will load cargo and move it back through Iraq.

Sustainers and transportation experts from the 10th Sustainment Brigade provided partnership and planning for the Tuesday's operation. Maj. Peter P. Vien, Brigade Engineer, 10th Sust. Bde. said that coordination involved all echelons of command starting at MNF-I, through the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), the 10th Sust. Bde.'s higher command.

"I think it [the proof of principle] was very successful, because this will be the first time we had the Iraqis come into Taji and pick-up stuff and move it out, Vien said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16