Kansas Guard partners with Iraqi Trucking company
February 14, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq -- Kansas National Guardsmen are partnering with a local Iraqi trucking company to help build the Iraqi economy here over the next two years.
The contract with the Al Ghezy trucking company, overseen since December by the 287th Sustainment Brigade from Wichita, Kan., allows Al Ghezy to deliver unescorted cargo to bases throughout southern Iraq.
The contract is scheduled for review every six months to ensure the company is successful long after the 287th Sustainment Brigade has left Iraq.
"Our goal is to see the business grow as much as possible so they can keep the local economy growing," said 1st. Lt. Andrew R. Wright, ITC officer in charge, 287th Sustainment Brigade, and native of Paola, Kan.
Master Sgt. Richard Medina, noncommissioned officer in charge of ITC, Sustainment Brigade, and resident of Albion, Mich., said the primary goal of the partnership is to improve the Iraqi economy, and a secondary goal is to keep Soldiers safe. He said, ITC missions have kept 2,636 Soldiers off the road and available for other missions.
"We are getting responsibility of moving more things and the FOBs (forward operating base) are getting use to seeing locals on base," said Asaad Sultan, an ITC project manager from Nasariyah, through an Iraqi interpreter.
Wright said the brigade is teaching Al Ghezy basic convoy operations security and safety standards, like keeping driver logs and doing after action reviews. The ITC has learned to identify trends, like road conditions and aggressors, so they can take alternate routes to complete the mission.
"The most important mission is safety," Sultan said. "The Army doesn't need mistakes."
Since October, Al Ghezy has completed 114 missions, delivering 864 containers of cargo with no damage or pilferage. Sultan said his drivers are very protective of the cargo they carry.
"We make sure it (the cargo) arrives in the same condition as it left," Sultan said.
Wright said the success of the partnership is due to the work ethic of the ITC; Sultan has never missed a day of work since they began working together last year.
"They are very hard workers," Wright said. "They have never failed to get a mission done."
Sultan said his company will do whatever it takes to complete a mission. He is a project manager but he does everything, including loading trucks, working in the convoy yard and driving.
"We do everything to get the job done," Sultan said. "We are like Soldiers, we don't say no."
Medina said because of the work ethic of the Iraqis the Army is looking to expand to more contracts with Al Ghezy and other trucking companies as well.
"Right now we are contracting 30 trucks, 25 flatbeds and five heavy equipment trucks," Medina said. "We want to double those numbers to include water and fuel tankers."
Sultan said the best thing about working with the Army is the consistency; the missions are always there. He said the contracts continue to get bigger and run smoother.
"It is a good experience working with the Army," Sultan said. "We work together to benefit both the business and the Army."