Irak/USA — Army Beating Estimate on Equipment Drawdown from Iraq

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2010 — The Army is now 35 per­cent com­plete in its effort to move equip­ment and materiel out of Iraq as part of the U.S. with­draw­al from that coun­try.

Thousands of vehicles and equipment that have returned from Iraq wait to be retrograded in a 3rd Army lot in Kuwait
Thou­sands of vehi­cles and equip­ment that have returned from Iraq wait to be ret­ro­grad­ed in a 3rd Army lot in Kuwait. The base receives hun­dreds of trail­er-sized con­tain­ers a week, filled with every­thing from med­ical sup­plies to ammu­ni­tion.
U.S. Army pho­to by Spc. Monte Swift

Lt. Gen. William G. Web­ster Jr., com­man­der of 3rd Army, spoke April 2 dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence about the sta­tus of the draw­down in Iraq, and the buildup in Afghanistan. The Army began pulling equip­ment out of the coun­try in May 2009.

“When we start­ed this oper­a­tion, we had about 2.8 mil­lion items of equip­ment in Iraq, along with 88,000 con­tain­ers con­tain­ing some of that equip­ment,” the gen­er­al said.

The Army also has ret­ro­grad­ed more than 11,000 pieces of rolling stock — tracked vehi­cles, wheeled vehi­cles and trail­ers. Addi­tion­al­ly, more than 21,000 troops have rede­ployed from Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom. In all, more than $1.25 bil­lion worth of materiel and equip­ment have left Iraq.

“We’re about 35 per­cent through with that now,” Web­ster said.

Near­ly half of the equip­ment com­ing out of Iraq has been marked to go to Afghanistan for the buildup there, Web­ster said. Oth­er equip­ment will go back to the Unit­ed States to be rein­te­grat­ed into the Army, sold to for­eign mil­i­taries, or dis­posed of. But much of the equip­ment the Army will keep, includ­ing that for buildup in Afghanistan, needs to be mod­i­fied before going into the new envi­ron­ment, or repaired, due to exces­sive wear from use in Iraq.

“The equip­ment we have has been rid­den hard,” the gen­er­al said.

Equip­ment is now being reset and repaired in Kuwait, Web­ster said. If it can’t be reset there, it may go back to the Unit­ed States to be repaired in depots.

“We have a large team of experts from Army Materiel Com­mand and the Defense Logis­tics Agency that looks at all of this equip­ment in Iraq where it cur­rent­ly sits,” he said. “If the equip­ment is not ful­ly mis­sion-capa­ble, or it does­n’t have enough life in it,… they will pass that equip­ment back to us.”

If the Army deter­mines the over­all cost to repair equip­ment is more than the oper­a­tional cost, Web­ster said, it might be scrapped.

While equip­ment needs to be cleaned up and refur­bished before going into Afghanistan, oth­er equip­ment needs to be mod­i­fied for the dif­fer­ent oper­a­tional envi­ron­ment there, Web­ster said.

“Some of the equip­ment we’ll get out of Iraq does not have the lat­est armor on it,” he said. “We may also have to change engines, sus­pen­sions, trans­mis­sions, as well as adding on the lat­est armor, before we push it for­ward. We’re try­ing to get it to our troops in the best con­di­tion pos­si­ble before they real­ize they need it.”

To move that equip­ment around in the­ater, the Army is depend­ing heav­i­ly on the North­ern Dis­tri­b­u­tion Net­work set up by the U.S. Trans­porta­tion Com­mand. About half of sup­plies are being moved that way, Web­ster said.

“Those north­ern routes have giv­en us a great deal of relief and addi­tion­al capac­i­ty if any of the routes are blocked by weath­er or ene­my action,” he said.

The gen­er­al said through effi­cien­cies he expects the Army can beat its ini­tial time esti­mates for mov­ing nec­es­sary equip­ment into Afghanistan.

“The pres­i­dent told us he want­ed to move [into Afghanistan] as quick­ly as pos­si­ble,” he said. “Ini­tial esti­mates were that is was going to take as much as 18 months. Through the effi­cien­cies we found and the hard work of the entire [Defense Depart­ment] team, and our allies too, with all these oth­er net­works we now will be able to move the 5,000-plus vehi­cles that are need­ed for the buildup by the end of the sum­mer.”

Army News Ser­vice
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)