Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc. employee, Staff Sgt. Martin Kittridge, is currently serving in Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Kittridge has been a long time member of the Army Reserves, as well as an employee of Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc. The following article was taken from the Nutclub Acorn, a publication by the West Side Nut Club of which Kittridge is a member.
“At 0400 West Side Nut Club Member Staff Sgt. Martin Kittridge, platoon sergeant for the ITN (Iraqi Transportation Network) mission security detail, starts hi day in Joint Base Balad (JBB), Iraq. Sgt. Kittridge’s platoon is responsible for guarding the entrance to the base known as the North Entry Control Point. This entry point is where all civilian convoys operated by host nations or third country companies enter JBB as part of the ITN mission. The ITN is the first phase of the Responsible Withdrawal from Iraq. The control point is guarded by a combination of the civilian security teams, military units and a security detail from the 90th Sustainment Brigade, based in Little Rock, Ark. This checkpoint serves as a portal for the massive logistics and supply operations driving the repositioning of equipment from the outlying forward operating bases that are in the process of closing down. This equipment has been deemed non-essential to the current mission in Iraq. “The personnel and equipment requirements of this mission are very high,” said Staff Sgt. Kittridge, “currently there are approximately 30 soldiers assigned to this mission.”
“My job once we were in Balad was to sit in a secured building at a desk with several computers and track the huge amounts of fuel in the area of responsibility (AOR) that th e90th was in charge of, which is in Diyala Province. I also was one of the units auditors that went to the fuel farm and made sure that civilian contractors were doing what the government pays them to do,” said Kittridge. “We had all had to do a lot of training to get us up to speed on what the job called for. We had to learn Iraqi numbers because the license plates are Iraqi and our Transportation Movement Requests (TMR’s) are all in English so we had to be able to translate quickly. We also had to be certified in combat lifesaving techniques and personnel searches. once the mission started, which we took over from another active duty unit, my days started at 0400 and went to 1900 hours daily. I had to make sure everyone that was assigned for the days mission showed up, did our morning checks of the vehicles we were using, go to breakfast, then we had to pick up our TMR’s from a transportation unit here on the base.”
As trucks approach the initial gate, they are stopped a safe distance from the checkpoint and the drivers are signaled to exit the vehicle. At this point, months of training are employed by the security team members as they search the drivers and vehicles for explosives and other hazards.
“Soldiers that work this mission are not exempt from any of the additional duties that might come up. On any given day, several individuals may be pulled from Charge of Quarters duty, maintenance or other tasks, but we still have to complete the mission,” explained Kittridge about the ability of the ITN mission team to maintain other responsibilities of being a Soldier while ensuring mission success.”