By Pfc. Lisa Cope, 13th EScFebruary 6, 2010
Soldiers with the 546th Maintenance Company and the 36th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) met with local leaders Jan. 18, and visited the four pump stations along the Euphrates River that provide water to Contingency Operating Base Adder and Camp Cedar II, Iraq.
First Lt. Nicholas R. Blair, the officer in charge of the Canal Pump Team with the 546th Maint. Co. out of Fort Polk, La., said his team delivers fuel to all four pumps about three times a week.
Blair, a Norton, Mass., native, said local shaykhs own the pump sites and local Iraqis are in charge of the general upkeep and maintenance of the pumps. So, when the team goes out to the sites, they always interact with the local population, he said.
Blair said his Soldiers have a good relationship with the local children in particular, as the children generally run to greet the Soldiers, who bring them candy and other items that have been donated to the unit for distribution.
The closing of Cedar II will cut his teams' mission in half as only two of the pumps will be needed to keep COB Adder running, Blair said.
"[The closing of Cedar II] will affect it drastically; 50 percent of what we do outside will fundamentally be cut," said Blair.
"We deliver 900 to 1,000 gallons [of fuel] to each site per week. This will drop it down from 4,000 gallons to 2,000 gallons," he daid. "We will just deliver fuel to the Tallil site, and the Euphrates 2 site."
Col. Sean A. Ryan, commander of the 36th Sust. Bde., out of Temple, Texas, and a Cedar Park, Texas, native, visited the pump houses and had lunch with two of the local shaykhs.
"I think it was successful," said Ryan. "The engineers were out working on one of the pumps where the earth had kind of fallen-in some, and [it was] a good chance just to meet with the local shaykhs that ... actually have a contract to maintain the pumps and make sure that we have water."
Ryan said the shaykhs help ensure the security of his troops while they are on missions in the area.
"They help us," said Ryan. "If there is ... anything going on, on their land, they let me know about it and help to keep our Soldiers safe here."
The pump houses are a vital link between the local population and U.S. forces in the area, Ryan said.
"We are starting to interact more with the local population," he said. "We see a lot more acceptance with the shaykhs, as well as the local populace that work there."
"There is not conflict, or friction points, with the pump houses because it is a win-win situation," Ryan said. "It is how we get our water and our lifeline here on Adder, and it provides some business to the shaykhs, and ultimately spreads throughout their communities."