HABBINIYAH, Iraq -- When many think of standing up an army, like the one getting on its feet in Iraq, they might envision infantrymen on patrols and tanks rolling across stretches of desert. But combat forces are only effective if they have supporting units to sustain them.
The soldiers of Support Company, 1st Motor Transportation Regiment, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are the maintainers that keep the division on the road. These troops repair and conduct on-site recovery of any vehicle in the army’s arsenal.
“We have trained the Iraqis on all aspects of the humvee and 5-ton truck,” said U.S. Army Capt. Harold Young III, the maintenance advisor for the 1st MTR military transition team. “They can change a transmission, drop a motor – most any routine maintenance.”
Young explained that many of the Iraqi mechanics had to go through a six-month course to be able to perform the services they provide and that the job they do is imperative to their military’s future.
“It’s important because they don’t need American or coalition contractors to work on their equipment,” Young said. “We can pull back and let them maintain the equipment they have. It turns the fight over to them.”
The way the company operates today has improved significantly from when the transition team first received the unit, according to Young.
“When we came here, the Iraqis literally had nothing -- no trained mechanics, no tools, no repair parts,” Young said. “Now we have Iraqis going to school. Some have graduated and are able to turn their own wrenches and order their own parts. Now they are almost self-sufficient, which just puts us in an advisory role,” Young said.
The company also consists of a quick reaction wrecker team that goes out and recovers vehicles that have crashed or have been damaged during convoys.
Young even recounted how one vehicle, damaged as the result of a rollover during a night convoy, was recovered and being repaired by the Iraqis before the transition team ever knew about it.
The company’s sergeant major, who requested to not be identified, said he looks at his unit’s service to the fight as another step toward his country’s self-sufficiency.
“I am very proud to belong to the service company,” he explained through an interpreter. “It is an honor to serve the Iraqi army. I want to make the Iraqi army serve my country and protect it. In the future we will not need any help from any coalition forces.”