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U.S. Forces Give Humvees to Iraqi Army

American Forces Press Service

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Jan. 15, 2009 – As part of an ongoing effort to enhance the Iraqi army’s combat effectiveness, the U.S. military has turned over thousands of armored Humvees.

The program is a joint effort between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force as part of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, with the intent to turn over 8,500 of the vehicles to the Iraqis by July, officials said.

Army Col. Michael Sage of the command’s supply division manages a $200 million contract to refurbish the vehicles before they are sold to the Iraqis.

"Our aim is to provide the Iraqi security forces, military and police, with a proven, reliable, and capable vehicle that will build their forces' capability and enable [them] to engage in the counter-insurgency fight," he said. The command’s mission is to generate, train, and help to sustain Iraqi security forces so they become capable and self-reliant.

Humvees destined for service in the Iraqi army or police force start the transition process at the Redistribution Property Assistance Team yard here, a few miles north of Baghdad. Once at Camp Taji, the Humvees face a rigorous validation process.

"The vehicles are cleaned, inspected and processed through a maintenance program that refurbishes the vehicles from the ground up," Sage said.

After that process, every Humvee receives a follow-up inspection, is repainted for the Iraqi army or national police forces, and undergoes a joint inspection by Iraqi and U.S. officials before it is accepted, the colonel added.

Mechanics of the 1538th Transportation Company, 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, conduct the initial inspection.

"It's a huge mission that involves players all over the country, and the whole thing is focused right here at Camp Taji," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Russell Hullaby, who heads up the inspection process. "Every Humvee transferred to the Iraqis comes through us. It's really something that my guys can be proud of."

The 536th Maintenance Company, 419th Combat Sustainment Support Brigade, 10th Sustainment Brigade, is a direct-support unit assigned to the 165th CSSB that assists in major repair work.

"We're equipped to fix minor problems on site," Hullaby said, "but major jobs like engine or transmission replacement have to be handed over to the 536th."

The Air Force-controlled Redistribution Property Assistance Team main office validates 50 cleared Humvees per week and assigns a batch number for transfer to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

"Our program turns over armored Humvees only," said Maj. Sharon Ramp, on-site director of the Iraqi Humvee turnover program here.

Ramp said since the program's inception, it has transferred more than 3,000 Humvees to the Iraqis, averaging 400 vehicles per month.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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