March 28th, 2010, 08:38
Logisticians reshuffle soldiers’ equipment
As combat forces prepare for the end of the war in Iraq, the Army’s top logisticians have quietly but furiously ramped up for the monumental task of removing from that country millions of pieces of war-fighting equipment.
Complicating the task of moving the more than 3.1 million pieces of equipment is the ongoing — and rapid — increase in troops headed for Afghanistan this spring and summer.
“We’re at the center of the universe right now for logistics synchronization as we draw down forces in Iraq and build up forces in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Jack O’Connor, director of logistics for Third Army and commanding general of Army Materiel Command-Southwest Asia. “As you can imagine, this is a very complex operation.”
Since October 2009, more than $1.25 billion in equipment and supplies have been moved out of theater. An additional $145 million worth has been redistributed from Iraq to Afghanistan.
But much work remains to be done.
O’Connor, who is deployed to Kuwait, said the Army and its partners — from U.S. Transportation Command to the Defense Logistics Agency — must move its equipment out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
According to the security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, the number of U.S. troops remaining in Iraq will drop to 50,000 by Aug. 31 and all troops are due out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
As of March 23, 83,970 soldiers were deployed to Iraq, with another 15,600 in Kuwait.
There are about 3.1 million pieces of non-rolling stock — ranging from handheld radios and thermal sights to generators and trailers — and 60,000 pieces of rolling stock — including Humvees, Strykers, MRAPs and heavy trucks — in Iraq.
Of that equipment, about 2,500 items, mostly vehicles in the MRAP family, are being moved to Afghanistan, O’Connor said. The additional equipment will support a surge of 30,000 troops, as ordered in December by President Obama, into that country, O’Connor said. An additional 2,600 items will move to Afghanistan from the U.S., he said.
About half of the 2,500 items being pulled from Iraq have moved or are being moved to Afghanistan, O’Connor said March 24.
As for the non-rolling stock, the goal is to draw down that equipment to no more than 1.8 million pieces by the end of August, he said.
The goal for the rolling stock is to reduce that number from 60,000 pieces to about 37,000 by Aug. 31, O’Connor said.
About two-thirds of the equipment is being sent back to the U.S. for reset. However, some could be sold to the Iraqi army or police, and still others sold to the other services or federal agencies conducting operations in the region, O’Connor said.
“There are deliberate processes that we have put in place,” O’Connor said.
That includes standing up the Army Central Support Element-Iraq, which houses specialists from Materiel Command, the Army and the Defense Department who can decide what to do with each piece of equipment, he said.
Since June, the support element has processed more than 125,000 items of non-rolling stock and more than 11,000 wheeled vehicles.
The drawdown in Iraq is part of an “unprecedented” military operation, O’Connor said, and the priority is to ensure the right equipment gets into the hands of the war fighters.
“We’re supporting two large joint operating areas, we’re doing a responsible drawdown, we’re building up in Afghanistan, it’s a theater in constant motion,” he said. “The whole role of Third Army is to set the theater, to make sure we’ve got positive accountability of our equipment and supplies ... and make sure this stuff is delivered on time, on target.”
March 28th, 2010 08:38