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Mechanics Make Quick, Smooth Transition in Baghdad

By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq, Nov. 20, 2006 – The new mechanics in town wasted no time getting busy when they arrived in Baghdad.

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Army Spc. Donald Blazer, a generator mechanic for 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, fixes a bracket on a generator door at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, USA
  

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Mechanics from the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, took over operations from the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), almost immediately after arriving at this Baghdad base.

Phoenix native Sgt. 1st Class John P. Schulz, the 2nd BSTB’s motor sergeant assigned to the Fort Hood, Texas-based unit’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, said he decided to start operations as early as possible because that was the way he has always known it to be successful through his other deployments.

“I told (the 4th BSTB’s mechanics) we wanted to take over with their guidance,” Schulz said. “Those guys need time to get out of here. So, everyone sat back and let us do it.”

Schulz credits the smooth transition to his mechanics’ eagerness to start their mission.

“They have been outstanding,” he said of his team. “Since we were at Camp Buehring (in Kuwait), they have been chomping at the bit to get over here and finally start working. I’ve run out of things for them to do; they are all over it.”

Schulz said that because the 4th BSTB mechanics left the motor pool in better shape than they found it. “This place is set up better than at Fort Hood,” he said.

Spc. John M. Zubek, a track vehicle mechanic assigned to HHC, 4th BSTB, and a native of Los Angeles, said his team tried to provide as much help to the “new guys” as possible during the transition period.

“It’s been working out great,” he said. “They have more mechanics than we could have imagined, and we are more than willing to show them how to do things here.”

Zubek said during his time in Iraq, he and his team developed their way of doing things. In most cases, it was new tools or new ways of using old tools.

“There are some small shortcuts to make stuff easier out here, and (the 2nd BSTB mechanics) have been very insightful and asking questions when they have to,” he said. “They are going to do really well.”

Sgt. Juan Santibanez, an HHC, 2nd BSTB, light-wheeled mechanic and the recovery noncommissioned officer in charge, said many of his soldiers were not familiar with the M1114 up-armored Humvee’s transmission and air conditioning system.

“These guys from the 4th STB, hooked it up for us,” he said. “They came up with a plan, and that plan worked. So, we’ve been following their (procedures).”

The 2nd BSTB mechanics were left with a maintenance shop capable of doing almost everything they need to perform their mission while in Iraq, according to Santibanez, a native of Michoacan, Mexico. Yet, they have been using their talents and know-how to start small projects such as putting in working tables, pressure wash stations, and setting up communications satellites so they can stop sending couriers to submit reports.

(Army Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim is assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spc. Loren Hayes, a track mechanic with the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, does some welding work on a table at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. Jason McCaig, a light wheel mechanic from Nashville, Tenn., keeps track of his vehicles on a status board. Mechanics from the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, are taking over the mission from Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, USA  
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