UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


NMCB 1 Seabees Forming Professional Bonds with their Iraqi Counterparts

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071129-11
Release Date: 11/29/2007 2:14:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ja'lon A. Rhinehart, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 Public Affairs

AR RAMADI, Iraq (NNS) -- Nearly a month after six seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 were augmented to the 7th Iraqi Division Military Training Team (MiTT) a professional bond has formed with their Iraqi army counterparts.

Since Oct. 17, when the Seabees from NMCB 1 were first deployed with the 7th MiTT team, they have taught their Iraqi counterparts basic Seabee skills to include working with electricity, generators, welding and basic construction, such as building Swa-huts.

The MiTT is a combined military organization comprised of U.S. and Iraqi military personnel.

As part of the continued training efforts, the battalion has been tasked to provide expert construction-related technical training to the "jundee," or enlisted Iraqi Army Soldiers.

The Seabees quickly learned that the personal relationships developed with their Iraqi counterparts were an essential component in helping them gain the trust that would make the difference.

"Many of these soldiers served under a military culture that discouraged personal motivation and initiative, up and down the chain of command," said Utilitiesman 3rd Class Michael Gazinski. "We are here to change that culture. However, providing the training and encouragement that they can accomplish the mission is just not enough. It is imperative that we develop a strong relationship so that they learn to trust us. Then, and only then, will they accept and put into practice what they have learned from us."

Unlike the Seabees, the Iraqi military specialties are not broken down into individually specific job classifications, but are generally a combination; however the skill sets remain the same. Working with the American troops has provided the opportunity to become more proficient in their specific trades and allowed confidence that comes along with the experience of working with new ideas and equipment.

"I feel like a new man; I want them to stay so I can learn more," said Hashim Ali Abas, a lead mechanic with the Iraqi Army. "I have been a mechanic since I began working with my father at 7 years old, but this experience has allowed me to work with new equipment and learn skills that until now I didn't have. The American Seabees work with me. I have an idea, they may have one better; but we talk and learn from each other."

"The relationships between the Seabees and the jundee are very close," said Lt. Col. Hassau Farhar. "Becoming friends, showing pictures, sharing; it's a great way to perpetuate teamwork in the field. Although at this time they are able to learn so much from the Seabees, it is still not just one side or the other; but together."

For the Seabees of NMCB 1, this is an experience that they will never forget. They have been afforded the chance to learn a new culture and affect change in a world of uncertainty. However, for the troops the responsibility is not one that weighs heavily on their shoulders, but one that they accept fully, head up and chest out.

NMCB 1 is part of nearly 1,100 Sailors and Marines supporting critical general engineering and construction efforts in Al Anbar Province, Iraq as part of 30th Naval Construction Regiment (Forward).

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list