CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Two 15th Sustainment Brigade supply Soldiers have a not-so-average supply job here.
Staff Sgt. Marie C. Taylor and Sgt. Shawntrese D. Peak are the only 15th SB representatives working alongside about 50 Iraqi nationals in the Class IX yard here.
Class IX is the Army’s supply designator for all vehicle repair parts.
The unique part is the yard provides all the military tactical vehicle repair parts in Iraq for the Iraqi Army - not the U.S. Army, said Taylor.
The U.S. Army intends to train up Iraqi soldiers to take over and operate the yard before long.
“This is the only Class IX parts activity in Iraq that is being stood up, and will be transitioned to the Iraqi Army within the next year,” said CWO Ronald Diehl, a maintenance technician for Multi-National Security Transitional Command–Iraq.
Located on the Iraqi side of Camp Taji, the yard holds warehouses full of vehicle repair parts for use by Iraqi units. Additional parts can be ordered from the States, but the total process of ordering and receiving parts may take up to 180 days, said Taylor.
Taylor, the Class IX NCOIC with the 512th Maintenance Company, said she enjoys her job, and is glad of the opportunity to work with local Iraqis.
“They are good people, hard workers, and we really have a good working relationship with them all-around,” she said.
Taylor and Peak took over the yard in September replacing the unit that started it.
Taylor said they overhauled the warehouses and conducted a 100 percent inventory, setting up programs to track all of the parts requested and shipped out of the yard.
A typical day for Taylor and Peak include trips to the Central Receiving and Shipping Point, organizing shipments of parts, and doing inventories.
“We never know what exactly is coming in,” said Taylor referring to the parts. “It all depends on what is needed.”
The 15th SB Soldiers also oversee the local Iraqi workers at the yard, instructing them where items should be moved, and mentoring them in supply and inventory techniques.
“There is a language barrier, but that is expected,” Taylor said.
She said they often communicate with the Iraqi workers with a modified type of sign language, and have come to understand each other even with limited communication.
Taylor said the Iraqi workers were a little surprised to be working with female Soldiers at first, but they have gotten used to each other now. Although the female Soldiers help run the yard, they comply with some rules to accommodate the Iraqis, such as not riding in vehicles without a male escort, and leaving work before it gets dark.
Peak, also of the 512th, said her job is rewarding because she has the chance to work with the Iraqi locals.
“The best part is knowing that we are here helping the Iraqi people establish a democracy,” she said.
Peak said the experience she and Taylor have is a unique one. They have the opportunity to learn a lot about the Iraqi culture, and that is something not a lot of Soldiers get to do, she said.
The Iraqis working with the 15th SB Soldiers feel the same way - they learn from each other. An Iraqi worker at the yard said he likes working with the female Soldiers and has a good relationship with them.
“They just tell me what they need to finish their work … we work together, to accomplish our work,” he said.
The worker said he likes working for the betterment of his country.
“I feel a lot of pride working for the Iraqi Army, and doing anything I can for my country,” he said.
The U.S. Soldiers are looking forward to when they can hand over the yard to the Iraqi army.
“It’s worked,” Diehl said. “They helped train 25 (Iraqi soldiers) back in September … and they will be instrumental when we transition this to a full-time Iraqi force.”