CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq - Officials here held a job fair Feb. 23 to encourage more Iraqis to take jobs on the base.

Lt. Col. Eric Fleming, deputy commander, 16th Sustainment Brigade; Lt. Col. Alan Dorow, commander, 181st Brigade Support Battalion, and Q-West Mayor; Lt. Col. Kenneth Garrison, commander, 81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and base defense operations cell commander; Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Abbas Zeidan, commander, 7th Brigade; and James Hipp, liason officer, KBR, Inc.; met with Shaykhs and civic leaders from the Ninawa province.

"The job fair is the first step in what I hope will be a long and continued relationship between COB Q-West leadership, contractors, and the local people around Q-West," said Dorow. "This area is a farming community and has been hit very hard by the drought for the past three to four years. The lack of rain has created a huge need for jobs to support local families. We won't be able to help everyone of course, but every little bit helps, and employment opportunities foster the great working relationships and security for this area."

The base already employs many Iraqi's, but will increase this number with the new jobs being offered to Iraqis in nearby villages.

Shaykhs and Iraqi civic leaders at the job fair were asked to provide a list of individuals who would be willing to work on the logistics base, and basic contact information and skill summaries for the prospective contractors. Iraqi leaders were asked to complete an "order of merit" list that will be turned in for the use by Q-West employers.

Garrison said that the key to the success of the initiative is to find the right balance among all the competing interests in the local area.

"This requires an understanding of the local demographics, as well as 'buy-in' and cooperation among the local leaders," said Garrison. "This has to be an Iraqi solution."

Dorow said that companies that operate on Q-West will go down the lists and fill positions as they come available. Job vacancies will be filled gradually over the next few months until all positions are filled.



STORY BY COMMAND SGT. MAJ. ROBERT LANE, 181ST BRIGADE SUPPORT BATTALION
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