By Pfc. Sharla Perrin, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAO, MND-NFebruary 25, 2009
MOSUL, Iraq - Besides conducting joint kinetic and non-lethal operations with the Iraqi Security Forces in Mosul, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division has been working closely with their Iraqi comrades in support of combat support tasks as well.
Mechanics with Forward Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division attached to 25th Infantry Division, Multi National Division - North, participated in a vehicle maintenance day with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi Army Division Feb. 14 in Mosul, Iraq. After two previous logistical trips to the IA compound to assess and log the needs of the unit, the FSC Soldiers were finally ready to get down and dirty.
Spc. Abdurahim Sharif, one of the Forward Support Company mechanics on site from Portland, Maine, talked to Pvt. Omar Ahmab Ibrahem, a mechanic from Mosul with the IA battalion, about one particular vehicle. After a brief discussion, Sharif and Omar agreed that the glow plug control box needed to be replaced.
Having assessed the vehicle on one of their previous visits, the FSC had the control box on hand. Omar and Sharif started to install the box on the humvee, but soon realized that the bolts were too big for their casings. Instead of giving up and going to the next vehicle, Omar suggested that they make the casings bigger with an electric drill.
"It was a (cool) experience for me," Sharif said. For people that don't have the tools that we do, they have to make do with what they have. They're very resourceful."
Soon, two became five and then six vehicles that needed repairs. Coalition and Iraqi mechanics were working together as a fluid movement to finish the work, stopping only if a translation was needed. Sharif, who was born and raised in Somalia, understood Arabic a little, he said, which reduced the language barrier that some of the other workers faced.
Staff Sgt. Robert Harner, the maintenance team chief for the D Co. Combat Repair Team from Springfield, Ohio, said that the IA mechanics didn't need to be taught the application of techniques. Instead, it was the logistical need of the unit that held them back. They didn't have the parts they needed for the simplest of tasks, such as checking fluids or patching a tire.
"Today, they (the IA Soldiers) installed the parts that we requisitioned. My mission is to support (D Co.) as maintenance assets," Harner said. "Just as (D Co.) supports their Iraqi counterparts, I help with the maintenance of the IA vehicles."
In a matter of hours, several IA vehicles had been repaired, and a list of needed supplies had been recorded. CF Soldiers had provided the assets that their IA counterparts needed and had offered their expertise to complete the task at hand. In this case however, the IA proved to be most self-reliant.