Security forces along Iraq, Turkey border inspect trucks
November 27, 2009
HABUR GATE, Iraq - Along the border of Iraq and Turkey, U.S. service members, Iraqi security forces and contractors work together to ensure the safety of Iraq's citizens.
At the validation yard in Habur Gate, Iraq, KBR, Inc., employees, Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Soldiers check transportation movement requests and validate cargo on incoming trucks, said Sgt. 1st Class David A. Holder, the noncommissioned officer in charge with the 561st Movement Control Team Detachment, out of Springfield, Mo. Holder, a Waco, Texas, native, said they look for anything that is illegal and not on the cargo list.
The 561st MCT is assigned to the 49th Movement Control Battalion, 90th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), to track cargo being moved in and out of the Iraqi theater of operations.
"The main mission here at the border is to get coalition trucks from Turkey, that come through the validation yard; we process those trucks from our yard to go south," said Holder.
If there are items on the truck that are not supposed to be there, the validation yard workers identify those items and prevent them from moving farther into Iraq, he said.
Dlshad Hassin has been an Iraqi security officer for customs for three years.
"You try to cross the border, they have to check your load, because some stuff that crosses the border may be expired," said Hassin through an interpreter. "Too many times we catch some stuff that (is) illegal."
Hassin said drivers try to hide extra items on their trucks and sometimes try to drive away from convoys altogether to avoid being caught. Iraqi security forces and the U.S. military work together to ensure this does not happen, he said.
Holder said those extra items can be as substantial as cars.
"We've had a vehicle that was inside the truck ... The Kurdish police contacted us and we came over and broke the seal on the truck and found it in there," he said. "That truck did not go farther south. We immediately stopped it and turned it over to the Kurdish police."
The vehicle was inside an 18-wheel semi-truck, alongside other items the driver planned to sell, said Holder. The car was not on the manifest and it was not supposed to be on the truck, he said.
When drivers do not follow the rules and try to sneak items, steal fuel or avoid necessary checks, they are put on a restrictions list, said Holder.
"We have a restrictions list ... we will stop that truck from going south," he said. "We turn them over to the authorities here, to the customs police."
Holder said the military has a working relationship with the local nationals and KBR, Inc., employees, who love the American presence.
"We have a great relationship here, and one thing we want to do is maintain communications with the customs," he said. "I feel without that relationship ... it creates bad vibes."
Holder said after the validation yard, the truck drivers process their paperwork and go to the staging and holding yard to wait for convoys. The main goal is to process the vehicles and get them to their designated contingency operating location as quickly as possible, he said.
"Get them in, get them out," he said.
Roughly 3,000 Iraqi and Coalition vehicles go through the process each week, said Holder.
"I think it's a very good operation here," he said. "We handle our business and we do it very well."