2nd Lt. Liz Lopez
210th BSB, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — The most critical mission for the U.S. military in Iraq is training the Iraqi Army and police to secure their own country.
An often unnoticed, but critical, part of this is training the units to provide their own logistical support.
In a rural area southwest of Baghdad, 1st Lt. Jason Schulz, of Kenosha, Wis., quartermaster, Company A, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., is at the forefront of this essential task.
Schulz began working as the Iraqi police logistics liaison officer earlier this year, when it became apparent that, despite great progress in other aspects of training, the Iraqi police were falling behind when it came to logistics. Since then, Schulz has been spending the majority of his time in close interaction with both U.S. and Iraqi police forces.
The 23rd Military Police Company, 503rd MP Battalion, 16th MP Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, out of Fort Bragg, N.C., is responsible for all other Iraqi police training in the Mahmudiyah area. Schultz guides their partnered Iraqi units with logistical training.
“I help … with supply requests and projects, and training Iraqi police officers to use their logistics system for everything from office supplies to fuel,” Schulz said.
To accomplish his mission, Schulz divides his time between working with the Iraqi police at their district headquarters in Mahmudiyah and coordinating projects with contractors. He remains busy adjusting to the ever-changing needs of the Iraqi police.
“I don't really have a daily routine,” Schulz said. “Of course, not many soldiers who work with the Iraqi security forces do.”
While at the district headquarters, Schulz spends most of his time with either the station commander or an administrative officer. His role is advisory, helping the Iraqis complete the proper paperwork for one of their projects, or aiding them in determining which supplies they should request.
With contractors, his role is a little more active. Schulz remains hands-on, conducting negotiations and receiving bids for projects which may serve to improve force protection or quality of life for the Iraqi police.
“Right now, I am working on a couple of big projects,” Schulz said.
Among the most important of those is the expansion of the Joint Security Station in Lutifiyah where the Iraqi policemen live and work. The contract includes the addition of new work trailers, building renovations and force protection upgrades.
A second venture has him working with contractors to restore another building to create a new patrol police station. After the station was destroyed by mortars earlier this year, the patrol police have been sharing space at the Mahmudiyah district headquarters. The new location will give the police space to spread out and more autonomy with their missions.
Schulz has also been coordinating renovations and enhancements to force protection at the district headquarters to improve the quality of life for the Iraqi police officers living and working there.
Despite everything that he does to help, Schulz’s mission is not to get the Iraqi police anything and everything they need. His success is measured by the things that they are able to get for themselves.
While the police have made great strides understanding and using their logistics program since Schulz began his work, many of the remaining issues are beyond his power to affect.
“For the logistics system to improve, there has to be better control, which will come with time as the situation fleshes itself out – and good leaders, who are willing to do what's right for the current and future Iraqi security forces,” Schulz said.
Sectarian power struggles play a role in logistics as they do in all aspects of the efforts in Iraq.
“It will take diplomacy, understanding and monitoring at every level to get the controls in place to bring the system back online,” Schulz said.
Along with the Iraqi logistics personnel, Schulz will continue to work with the new system as it develops. However, the day quickly approaches when Schulz will leave Iraq, and his work will truly be put to the test.
If Schulz has any say about it, the Iraqi police will pass that test with flying colors.
Friday, August 24, 2007
2nd Lt. Liz Lopez