Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iraqi Brick Factory Approaches Pre-war Capacity

Workers at the Narhwan Brick Factory Complex unload wet bricks fresh being formed and cut, March 25. The bricks are stacked to cure before they are moved into the kilns to be baked. The NBFC is home to 167 businesses, employs 15,000 Iraqis and produces nearly 4 million bricks per day. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Scott Maynard)

Humvees park at the entrance of a brick factory March 25. The NBFC is home to 167 businesses, employs 15,000 Iraqis and produces nearly 4 million bricks per day. (U.S. Army photo/Sgt. 1st Class Scott Maynard)

By Sgt. 1st Class Scott Maynard
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Officer

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Revitalization of the Narhwan Brick Factory Complex has led to an explosion of employment.

Since January, employment numbers at the NBFC have quadrupled to nearly 15,000 workers; production is up more than 500 percent.

Lt. Col. Mark Sullivan, commander of 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery, said the boom resulted from a deal between the Iraqi minister of oil and the NBFC union, comprised of four officials who represent the 167 businesses operating in the NBFC. Sullivan said the deal allocated enough heavy fuel oil – the oil necessary to fire up the kilns to bake bricks – for the complex to boost production.

“I merely facilitated and connected the owners with the ministry of oil,” said the native of Huntsville, Ala. “This was an Iraqi problem in need of an Iraqi solution, and they did it.”

Six years ago, the NBFC was at full operating capacity, employing 25,000 Iraqis and producing nearly 8 million bricks per day.

“In 2002, the brick factory owners were here - we weren’t,” Sullivan said. “The Iraqis best understand the potential at the NBFC and we are just helping them reach that potential.”

Sullivan said the factory is crucial to reducing unemployment in the region. In Iraqi culture, the eldest male in the family is responsible to provide for his family; the NBFC offers that opportunity to provide.

“When you help one family leader in Narhwan, you are helping ten because their families are so large,” he said. “We saw a need for employment and the Iraqis fulfilled it. By having this factory employ the populace, it makes our mission safer.”

When 1-10 FA arrived in Narhwan in October, the NBFC was controlled by insurgents. A series of offensive operations ousted the insurgents, Sullivan said, returning the complex to its rightful owners.

“The security situation now has reached a level where factory owners and workers are comfortable enough to return to the NBFC and stand the businesses back up,” Sullivan said. “That’s where we are today with employment and it has the potential to get better.”

The HFO supply from the government of Iraq is currently facing challenges, said Sullivan.

“During March, allocations of HFO to private enterprises ceased,” Sullivan said. “The owners are in the process of trying to resolve it. They have figured it out before; I am confident they will figure it out again.”

The 1-10 FA is part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

No comments: