• Employees of the Gulf Catering Company work in the salad room in the new dining facility at Camp Striker, Iraq, March 20 during the facility's grand opening. The ceremony included a ribbon cutting by Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, executive officer for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. The old dining facility was too small to support the increasing numbers of troops stationed on the camp.

    New Baghdad Area Dining Facility Feeds 9,000 Per Meal

    Employees of the Gulf Catering Company work in the salad room in the new dining facility at Camp Striker, Iraq, March 20 during the facility's grand opening. The ceremony included a ribbon cutting by Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, executive officer for the...

  • Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, a native of Apex, N.C., and the executive officer for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division thanks the civilians and Soldiers who have helped get the new Camp Striker, Iraq, dining facility on its legs during the facility's grand opening March 20. Christian LeMoine, a native of Antwerp, Belgium, and the dining facility manager, a civilian contractor with Kellogg, Brown and Root, stands by with oversized scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon.

    New Baghdad Area Dining Facility Feeds 9,000 Per Meal

    Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, a native of Apex, N.C., and the executive officer for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division thanks the civilians and Soldiers who have helped get the new Camp Striker, Iraq, dining facility on its legs during the...

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq (Army News Service, March 22, 2007) - After months of construction and waiting, the largest dining facility on Iraq's Victory Base Complex opened to cheers and a flood of Soldiers and civilians March 20.

The executive officer for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, thanked Kellogg, Brown and Root employee, 2nd BCT food-service Soldiers and others who assisted in the construction and opening of the new facility. Andrews also cut the ceremonial ribbon stretched in front of the building.

"It's a significant event for the brigade," Andrews said of the facility's opening. "The previous dining facility couldn't handle the number of troops."

The camp's old dining facility - a wooden building with several attached trailers - was intended to serve for six months, but Soldiers used it for over three years.

The new building is expansive - a critical quality in view of the ongoing "surge" of troops in the Baghdad area, Andrews said.

"One of the great things about the U.S. Army is how they spare no expense to support the Soldiers," he said. "Even in Vietnam, they were flying ice cream to the forward operating bases."

Ice cream - several pallets of it, in fact - is just one of the new dining facility's offerings. With about 300 workers, including third-country nationals from places like Sri Lanka, American civilians and Soldiers, the facility can provide more food, faster. Six one-megawatt generators power the building, which has been serving about 9,000 people at each meal during its first week of operation.

The workers, used to the cramped conditions and limited menu at Camp Striker's earlier dining facility, are getting used to the place.

"They've jumped up to a 9,000 man-per-meal DFAC," said Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Lashbrook, 2nd BCT food-service manager. "They're a little overwhelmed."

Lashbrook plans to expand the menu, adding to the potato, pizza and pasta bars sections with stir-fry, gyros, fruit and international foods.

"We'll give (the workers) a month or so, and then start bringing those on-line," he said. "They need to get the basics down first."

The facility also fills to-go orders for units heading out into sector for the day, and large, insulated containers of food called "mermites" to be used at field dining facilities.

Christian LeMoine, a native of Antwerp, Belgium, and a classically trained chef, is now a contractor with KBR and is the dining facility manager on Camp Striker.

"I speak four languages, and none of them are ones the workers speak," LeMoine said, laughing.

The employees of the Gulf Catering Company hail from many countries, and the dining facility's kitchen seems to be a well-placed reference to Iraq's historical tower of Babel. Hindi, Urdu, Nepalese, Tamil, Bahasa, Tagalog and Arabic vie with the U.S. military's standard English and Spanish to be heard in the building. The employees still know enough English, however, to serve the Soldiers and accomplish their missions.

Sgt. William Wary, a team leader with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT's personal security detachment, said he liked the changes.

"It's pretty nice here," he said during the grand opening lunch. "The food is better prepared than at the old facility, and the T-bone steak is definitely great. It's very open and inviting - it's great for morale."

(Spc. Chris McCann writes for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Public Affairs.)

Page last updated Thu March 22nd, 2007 at 12:48