CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - The 515th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, CSSB, maintains a knowledge center which provides a place where Soldiers can go to improve in their military and civilian professions.

What started as a need to remain current in their civilian field has grown into an asset for all Soldiers based at COS Marez.

When 1st Lt. Mario Chaparro, the S-6 officer in charge, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Vaughn, the S-6 information assurance manager, settled in Mosul, Iraq, they realized that there was no place to go if someone needed to remain current in their civilian fields of employment.

Chaparro and Vaughn pooled their talents to come up with the Seis Knowledge Center.

Built from the foundation of the SSG Powell Education Center, the Seis Knowledge Center will provide a place for Soldiers to go and learn.

Upon their arrival Chaparro and Vaughn found that the available equipment was old and outdated, with limited capability. They immediately realized that the center was not sufficient to meet the Soldier's current needs. They rolled up their sleeves and starting working.

Equipment from other units was acquired. Vaughn reached out to the Base Defense Operations Center, who had desktop computers in the closet which they contributed to the cause. They were immediately put to use, and with the help of Joe Tomsone, a civilian contractor, Chaparro and Vaughn were able to open the Seis Knowledge Center.

Currently, there is only one computer available to Soldiers on which certification testing may be performed.

The Seis Knowledge Center is still growing. Chaparro and Vaughn recently obtained computer memory which will be put to use and they plan to get more, thereby expanding the capacity of the center. The goal is to have twelve units available for Soldiers to use within about a month. The plan is to offer more services so that Soldiers can work on everything from CLEP tests to correspondence courses.

Chaparro is proud to have been a part of the Seis Knowledge Center.

"It feels good to be able to give Soldiers an opportunity to excel and to improve themselves, whether it is in their military field or their civilian profession. It is hard being away from home and trying to keep up with the competition in their work place," he said. "Now there is a place where they can test and take classes to keep up. That makes better Soldiers and better civilians. It's good for the military and it's good for the 515th. The Center will also help those soldiers who are currently unemployed. By using the center they can acquire skills so that they can find a job when they get back home."

"It makes me feel good knowing that this center will provide future subject matter experts and possibly potential warrant officers," says Vaughn. "The center will be the only one at COS Marez and it will be available to everyone on the COS."

Testing is available on the Graduate Records Examination, Graduate Management Admission Test, Cisco tests, Microsoft tests, and many more. The center is open on Tuesday and Thursday through appointment, and is located behind the 158th Service Maintenance Company maintenance bay.