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Iraqi Truck Company Transformation

When A Company, 168th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), 1st Sustainment Brigade, took over the management of a commercial Iraqi truck company (ITC) at Camp Liberty, the situation was discouraging. The trucks were in bad shape, the drivers were disheartened, the facilities were archaic, and the company’s reliability was unacceptable. With an operational readiness rate of 60 percent, something needed to be done.
This situation created additional challenges for the 168th BSB. When a truck in a convoy breaks down, the entire convoy has to stop. The frequent breakdowns of Iraqi vehicles in 168th BSB convoys left troops vulnerable to attack and delayed missions. Then, additional Soldiers and trucks had to go out to recover the disabled vehicle.
To address the problem, ITC trucks were shifted to on-base missions only while the drivers were trained to operate safely and efficiently. A Company created a four-step plan that would ultimately transform the ITC into a proficient, reliable operation. The four areas they concentrated on were cultural awareness, training, improved facilities, and maintenance.

A Company started playing soccer with the drivers, teaching them American football, organizing monthly dinners, and including them in training—anything to break down cultural walls and stereotypes. The Soldiers took this one step further when they decided to integrate the staff into combined facilities. These steps were key in alleviating suspicions between the Iraqi drivers and U.S. Soldiers.

When the 168th arrived, the ITC had no sleeping or shower facilities. The drivers slept in their trucks or in tents. A Company could see that the inclusiveness was helping, but until they dealt with the poor living environment and vehicle maintenance, they would not reduce the high employee turnover rate or the number of downed vehicles. Facility and maintenance improvements needed to be addressed with the ITC management. The A Company commander convinced the ITC management to install five brand-new living trailers, a dinning facility, a shower trailer with hot water, and a maintenance area.

Morale was improving, turnover was dropping, and the A Company Soldiers were determined to improve vehicle reliability, so they helped the ITC implement its own form of the Army Maintenance Management Program. They recommended that the ITC standardize its fleet of vehicles and house common spare parts on site to reduce the need for travel to Baghdad for service.

In an operational environment where results speak louder than concepts, it is evident that A Company’s four-step plan is working. Operational readiness rose from 60 percent to 98 percent, and driver turnover dropped dramatically. In 6 months, the ITC had 30 trucks on the road every day, hauled $495 million worth of assets and 6.2 million gallons of fuel, drove over 150,000 miles, and conducted 573 deliberate convoys, which took roughly 7,180 U.S. Soldiers off the road.

Army Logistician thanks Staff Sergeant Bryant Maude, 1st Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Officer, for providing the photos and story for this feature.