Iraq Drawdown on Track, Transcom Official Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2011 — From pens to Bradley fight­ing vehi­cles, 1.7 mil­lion pieces of mil­i­tary equip­ment have been moved out of Iraq so far, as the Dec. 31 dead­line for U.S. forces to be out of Iraq approach­es, a U.S. Trans­porta­tion Com­mand offi­cial said this week.

Military Sealift Command ship MV Virginian
Work­ers load a ship­ping con­tain­er from the Mil­i­tary Sealift Com­mand ship MV Vir­gin­ian onto a flatbed truck in Kuwait as part of the draw­down of forces in Iraq.
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. Shan­non Gre­go­ry
Click to enlarge

“The mis­sion is look­ing good,” said Air Force Maj. John Rozs­nyai, who heads up Transcom’s joint plan­ning team for the effort.

The draw­down from Iraq, which began Sept. 1 after com­bat oper­a­tions ceased, now stands at near­ly 60 per­cent com­plete for U.S. mil­i­tary equip­ment, offi­cials said. Transcom has five months to bring home the remain­ing troops and the last 1 mil­lion pieces of mil­i­tary equip­ment. Rozs­nyai told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice in an Aug. 1 tele­phone inter­view that he had just returned from a “table­top” orga­niz­ing meet­ing in Kuwait.

“Every­thing we’re see­ing is track­ing well,” he said.

The bulk of equip­ment is return­ing to the Unit­ed States, Rozs­nyai said, and the Army claims 90 per­cent of the load. U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand offi­cials decide whether equip­ment goes back to the Unit­ed States, to the Iraqis for their forces, or is sent to Afghanistan to help the war effort there, he explained.

Mean­while, he added, the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Iraqi gov­ern­ment may ask for some U.S. forces to remain in Iraq beyond this year affects deci­sions about the equip­ment that has yet to be brought out.

“Part of the equip­ment uncer­tain­ty is whether the Iraqi gov­ern­ment will want the Unit­ed States to stay longer,” Rozs­nyai said. “Require­ments for equip­ment are being bal­anced between [Afghanistan and Iraq],” he added.

After des­ti­na­tions are decid­ed, Transcom offi­cials begin the mam­moth task of mov­ing troops and equip­ment.

Iraq’s ter­rain and infra­struc­ture are more favor­able for this type of effort than Afghanistan’s rough and rocky land­scape, the major said.

“It’s easy to get a con­voy to Kuwait [or] Jor­dan,” he said. “The process­es we have in Iraq are work­ing well.”

Still, minor mod­i­fi­ca­tions would make the roads bet­ter for trans­port­ing equip­ment, he said, to pro­vide “wig­gle room” if it’s need­ed in Novem­ber and Decem­ber. Oth­er improve­ments are in the works to make Transcom’s job eas­i­er, Rozs­nyai said.

“We’re work­ing on improv­ing lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and a ser­vice route for crit­i­cal, sen­si­tive car­go, to give us anoth­er option out there,” he said.

But not every­thing has been mov­ing out of Iraq over land, Rozs­nyai said. When it became appar­ent last sum­mer that one sea­port had a high capac­i­ty, he explained, Transcom plan­ners saw it as an oppor­tu­ni­ty.

“That port’s capac­i­ty will give us a real­ly good han­dle on air­lift capac­i­ty and our require­ments with the com­mer­cial indus­try,” he said.

Com­mer­cial air and sea car­ri­ers work with Transcom offi­cials to assist in the moves, Rozs­nyai said.

For exam­ple, he said, a com­mer­cial ship return­ing from tak­ing a load of car­go to the Mid­dle East can stop in Kuwait, fill up with U.S. mil­i­tary car­go, and con­tin­ue on to the Unit­ed States. It’s more cost-effec­tive to use a ship already on an estab­lished route than to pull a mil­i­tary ship out of dry dock and pre­pare it to make the trips, he explained.

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

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