By Sgt. Keith VanKlompenberg

Special to the Hood Herald

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - As the U.S. military prepares for the responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq, the 13th Sustainment Command resource management office is preparing the drawdown of funds and government contracts to safeguard taxpayer money.

"We take U.S. dollars off the battlefield," said Sgt. Shavokia Jamison, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the resource management office with the 13th Sustainment Command.

Limiting amount of new supplies coming to Iraq

Jamison said her team's mission is to meet the command's intent of saving government and taxpayer funds, by limiting the amount of new supplies coming into Iraq and monitoring government contracts for any unnecessary spending.

Spc. Juan Maldonado, a budget analyst with the resource management office, said he overseas unit spending to ensure money and supplies are not wasted.

"We make sure they're asking for the right thing and the right amount," he said. "If you need two ink cartridges, don't ask for 10 or 15."

Units using lateral transfer system

Instead of ordering new supplies, units can also use the lateral transfer system to get equipment from other units who have extra, Maldonado said.

While limiting the amount of new supplies coming into Iraq undoubtedly saves money, the big savings come from ending unnecessary government contracts, said Maj. Brian Steele, the assistant chief of staff comptroller for the 13th Sustainment Command.

"What we have tried to do is establish a culture where we don't spend money just to spend money," he said.

As the responsible drawdown of troops and equipment draws near and bases close, the resource management office ensures base services end appropriately, said Steele. His team has done a good job at syncing the drawdown of contracts with base closures, he said.

"I have to say that the shifting ... and closing of (bases) has gone well," he said.

Office trying to boost the Iraq economy

In addition to saving taxpayer money, the resource management office works to boost the local economy in Iraq, said Spc. Rowena Smith, a budget analyst with the resource management office and a Philadelphia native.

Smith said Iraqi companies get local contracts before American companies, if they have the capabilities. The goal is to help the Iraqis get back on their feet financially with a sense of independence.

"Everyone wants to make something in Iraq," she said.

The Iraqi people have proven themselves to be fully capable, said Smith, and the 13th Sustainment will continue assisting them until they leave the country.

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