By Capt. Briana McFarlandJanuary 18, 2018
CAMP TAJI MILITARY COMPLEX, Iraq-Interoperability and partnership are two key words that loomed in the air as the 536th Support Maintenance Company and the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade welcomed the task of repairing a vital piece of equipment for mission success while strengthening our coalition partnership with the Iraq Army Aviation Fire Department Dec. 24.
The 449th CAB Iraq Partnership Officer Chief Warrant Officer 3 Benjamin Rutledge connected the firemen with the 536th SMC in order to repair multiple malfunctions in a fire truck owned and operated by the Iraq Army Aviation's Fire Department.
One additional fire truck may not seem like much, but according to Rutledge, having the additional fire truck adds value and effectiveness to the Iraqi forces.
"Their current equipment is old but usable," said Rutledge. "Therefore at any moment, their equipment could break down. Another fire truck in working condition will allow less gaps in their mission readiness. The more effective the Iraqi military is, the more effective the Coalition is."
On Dec. 21 the 449th CAB relocated the fire truck to the 536th SMC shop and returned it with most repairs completed by Dec. 24. The strict timeline was set by the Iraqi Army Garrison Commander, who insisted the truck be returned Sunday.
Some repairs needed more trouble-shooting and were unable to be fixed in the time allotted; however, that didn't stop Chief Warrant Officer 3 Pablo Penanavarro from documenting the damaged equipment and explaining to Rutledge and the Iraqi Army Aviation Fire Department how to fix it.
The 536th SMC does maintenance and calibration on all types of military equipment to include wheeled vehicles, weapons systems, radios and generators; however, the maintenance of an Iraqi fire truck was a unique request.
"The request we received was an odd request but a special one," said Penanavarro. "Here in the 536th, we never turn a customer around. We see ourselves as the last line of defense when it comes to maintenance."
Penanavarro discussed the difficulties it took to work on the fire truck.
"It was a bit challenging for my team to work on the fire truck, but our level of expertise and motivation was more than enough to find solutions and correct deficiencies," said Penanavarro.
The damaged parts consisted of a fire house reel class III water leak, which means the water was great enough to form drops when being inspected. It also consisted of two air leaks under the cab of the truck causing loss of water pressure for the front water cannon.
The maintenance company was able to repair the water cannon on the top of the cab in manual mode, but the air actuating cylinder needs repair and the 536th SMC needs more trouble-shooting time. The front bumper water cannon will require disassembly and cleaning of the sensor to work, and the class III water leak on the hose reel was reduced but will require parts.
With the help of Coalition Forces, the Iraqi Army Aviation's Fire Department is capable once again of performing its mission of extinguishing fires. This will improve operations leading to the defeat of violent extremist organizations per the National Military Strategy.
The Iraqi Army responded with happiness and satisfaction according to Rutledge. The progress was evident in the repairs that were made and there was discussion about possibly acquiring the needed parts from the manufacturer in order to finish the repairs.
"The completed repairs and a plan to finish the other repairs in the early part of 2018 is a welcomed plan of action as we move forward in the Partnership Program," said Rutledge. "As the Partnership Officer, I am able to glean these identified issues and problems and hopefully provide resolutions on behalf of the 449th CAB."
The Iraqi Army Aviation Fire Department also received extra medical supplies such as ointments, bandages, medical tape, ice packs, heat packs and personal hygiene products.
The 536th SMC Commander Capt. Domonick Sylve is happy to build upon the relationship the Coalition Forces have with the Iraqi Army.
"We came out here with the goal of adding value throughout theater," said Sylve. "Our Soldiers are trained and eager to make a positive impact within our area of operations. I'm glad my team was able to assist."