By 13th Sustainment Command Expeditionary Public AffairsFebruary 3, 2010
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - A new oil service center, owned and operated by local nationals, is scheduled to open Feb. 8 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The relocated and expanded service center, which replaces the center located near the north entry-control point with a location closer to the vehicle maintenance sites and the dispatching office, will provide services to more vehicles on base, said Air Force 1st Lt. Donna Besley, the installation management flight commander with the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Wing, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.
Besley, an Elmira, N.Y., native, said the old service center maintained mostly small trucks, but the new facility will work on buses and large trucks, such as the trash removal trucks on base. The old service center was responsible for 600 vehicles with the new center taking on roughly 1,700, she said.
The Iraqis perform basic oil and filter changes, as well as windshield wiper changes and other minor maintenance, said Besley, who oversees the operation.
"We have a really good working relationship," she said.
That relationship also extends to the Iraqi Based Industrial Zone and the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers who work closely with local businesses.
Sgt. Maj. Charles Scriven, the sergeant major of the IBIZ, said his team provided assistance and technical expertise on the project.
"We are the sponsors, so to speak," said Scriven, a Columbia, S.C., native.
Scriven said the new location of the oil service center is going to make a big difference to those on base who need vehicles serviced.
"This puts them in the same area where the maintenance is being done," he said.
The old location was difficult for some to find and caused some vehicle operators to go too long between oil changes, said Scriven.
"It's now less complicated to keep up with services," he said.
Scriven said the new location will have five service bays as opposed to two and they expect the work volume to triple.
The local shaykh who owns the oil service center has been involved with JBB for years, said Capt. Joseph Ayoub, the officer in charge of the IBIZ.
"He's been on base a while and has done good work," said Ayoub.
Ayoub said his team gave the oil center guidance and tips on running the business as well as help with the construction. The IBIZ also facilitated a partnership that allowed Army civil engineers to construct a hardened roof over the service bays.
"They've received help from us (because) they've done good work," said Ayoub. "We make sure they're happy."