Seven Iraqi Army officers-two generals, four colonels, a major and two translators-visited the Red River and Anniston Army depots during the last week of March to observe maintenance operations and see how depots function.

These visiting officers are responsible for the management of depot-level maintenance operations at the Taji National Maintenance Depot, an Iraqi Army base.

Taking the lead, personnel from the Army Materiel Command and the two depots are working with the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq to rebuild their facility in order to provide depot maintenance capabilities for their wheeled and tracked vehicles.

This has been a lengthy process that began in mid-2006 when AMC teams spent several months in Taji to establish designs for the depot-capable facilities.

Once the facilities were well-advanced in design and rebuild, training of the required maintenance personnel to perform depot operations began. At that time, AMC made the decision to bring several of the senior officers to Red River and Anniston to let them observe depot operations first-hand.

The tours at both installations demonstrated how vehicles flow through the required processes and the logistics required to make the many processes work smoothly.

While in the United States, the visitors were hosted by Maj. Gen. William Lenaers, the commanding general of TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Other U.S. participants included Col. S.B. Keller, ANAD commander; Col. Douglas Evans, RRAD commander; Col. Ron Alberto, Tobyhanna Army Depot commander; and Maj. George Sanders, AMC liaison officer in Iraq.

Throughout the visit, Lenaers stressed the importance of depot-level work in relation to field-level maintenance and the importance of highly qualified mechanics to perform the tasks.

It was not all work and no play, as the visitors were also given opportunities in both Texas and Alabama to experience some of the local area cultural.

For instance, while in Texas they toured a new car dealership and had dinner at a steakhouse. Enroute to Anniston they spent several hours touring the Civil War national military park at Vicksburg, Miss. Then in Anniston they spent time at the Berman Museum and at the Talladega Superspeedway. Visits to both installations were supported by local area chamber of commerce members who hosted the off-depot functions.

And, in both Texas and Alabama, shopping at local area stores was also part of their overall activities since they were able to purchase items that are not readily available in Iraq.