JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq: Another layer of outer perimeter security was added here April 1 to help protect the men and women of JBB, and the new initiative is staffed by more than 100 local Iraqis from the surrounding area.

“This contract is a first of its kind,” said Lt. Col. Raymond Reyes, JBB Regional Contracting Center commander. “Putting a requirement to employ 80 percent of the contractor’s workforce from the local area is an innovative contracting solution to implementing the Joint Campaign Plan.

“This is a tremendous boost to the Iraqi First program,” he said. “It provides economic opportunities in the Diyala and Salah-al-Din provinces while providing our Coalition forces the added force-protection measures we need.”

The initiative, which included certification training, improves perimeter and checkpoint security from vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and insurgents as well, said Maj. Scott Selchert, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Group plans and programs chief.

“We are attempting to give some ownership of security back to the people who live in the local area because they have a vested interest in JBB,” Major Selchert said.

“In my opinion, the Iraqis are highly motivated to work and succeed,” Major Selchart said. “There were 114 jobs offered in the contract and more than 300 applied.”

Boosting the local economy and the base’s security, this multi-faceted approach is expected to significantly reduce the risk of IED attacks against JBB.

“I am very proud of this job because I am able to provide security to my people while cooperating with U.S. forces,” said Arafat, one of the Iraqi security supervisors, via an interpreter. “I was trained on how to search vehicles and personnel; then I trained my team.”

Many of the Iraqis are former Iraqi Army, and, on the first day, they marched in formation to work, Major Selchert said. Part of the requirement for the job was a uniform and some had to spend as much as a month’s worth of pay to get it.

Overall, the contractor, who was awarded the contract Feb. 3, exceeded the 80-percent requirement and employed 100-percent Iraqis, Colonel Reyes said. The initiative also includes women.

“I have no doubt in my mind that they are mission-ready, mission-capable and ready to go right now,” Major Selchert said. “Absolutely, this is a step forward.”