Logistical Drawdown Continues in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2011 — Spring is still a month away, but that’s not stop­ping what is like­ly to be the largest and longest-run­ning spring-clean­ing project ever under­tak­en to pre­pare for the with­draw­al of U.S. forces from Iraq by Dec. 31.
As the com­bat mis­sion in Iraq offi­cial­ly end­ed in August and U.S. forces reduced their foot­print to about 50,000 troops, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma her­ald­ed “one of the largest logis­ti­cal oper­a­tions we’ve seen in decades” with the exo­dus of mil­lions of pieces of mil­i­tary equip­ment, prop­er­ty and sup­plies.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Cor­son, com­man­der of the Army Reserve’s 103rd Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand that has over­seen that mis­sion, equat­ed it to mov­ing the entire city of St. Joseph, Mo., with all its peo­ple, vehi­cles, equip­ment and prop­er­ty, to “the oth­er side of the plan­et.” And despite the immen­si­ty of the effort, it was com­plet­ed 10 days ahead of sched­ule, he said.

Now, with about two months left in their deploy­ment, Corson’s troops are con­tin­u­ing the logis­ti­cal draw­down while lay­ing crit­i­cal ground­work for its fol­low-on unit to reduce the U.S. foot­print in Iraq to zero by the year’s end.

The draw­down oper­a­tion under way now isn’t near­ly as dra­mat­ic as the head­line-dom­i­nat­ing images of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 4th Stryk­er Brigade dri­ving their con­voy of armored vehi­cles into Kuwait in late August.

But since the launch of Oper­a­tion New Dawn on Sept. 1, about 3,000 truck­loads of equip­ment and gear have con­tin­ued to roll out of Iraq, Army Lt. Col. Ger­ard “Ger­ry” Schwartz, the command’s deputy sup­port oper­a­tions offi­cer, report­ed. And in the months ahead, he added, the vol­ume will increase sub­stan­tial­ly.

Over­see­ing that effort isn’t sim­ply a mat­ter of mov­ing every­thing from Point A to Point B, Schwartz explained. It requires iden­ti­fy­ing what’s no longer need­ed and can be shipped home now, what can be trans­ferred to units in Afghanistan or else­where, and what’s sim­ply too worn out or cost­ly to trans­port. Under specif­i­cal­ly reg­u­lat­ed con­di­tions, the Unit­ed States can trans­fer some of its excess equip­ment to Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces.

Three fixed and eight mobile mate­r­i­al dis­tri­b­u­tion teams are at work through­out Iraq, help­ing units to cat­e­go­rize their prop­er­ty items.

“They’re sort­ing through things that are excess … that might poten­tial­ly be used for for­eign [mil­i­tary] sales to get to the Iraqis,” or items that could be returned to the U.S. mil­i­tary inven­to­ry , Schwartz said.

As they do so, Schwartz said, they’re ever mind­ful of the need to be good stew­ards of the tax­pay­ers’ mon­ey.

“We are cer­tain­ly aware of how much has been spent in this coun­try and how well we have been equipped, and we want to make sure every­thing we can pos­si­bly get back, that we can con­tin­ue to use in the [U.S.] inven­to­ry, that we do that,” he said.

While con­duct­ing the logis­ti­cal draw­down, the 103rd ESC faces anoth­er com­pli­cat­ing fac­tor: ensur­ing that troops on the ground have every­thing they need until the day they rede­ploy. “It’s a very del­i­cate bal­ance,” said Army Col. Kathryn Luna, the command’s plans offi­cer. “Our No. 1 mis­sion is to sup­port and sus­tain the force. So there­fore, that mis­sion can­not fail with those 50,000 troops that we have here.”

So the trick, Schwartz said, is to move for­ward with the logis­ti­cal draw­down with­out inter­fer­ing with the ongo­ing U.S. mis­sion in Iraq.

The com­mand does not want to cause any oper­a­tional impacts for Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Iraq], or any­one else, he said.

“So that is the chal­lenge: mak­ing sure we are doing the pri­ma­ry mis­sion, which is train­ing Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces, and that we don’t lean too far for­ward on get­ting things out,” Schwartz said.

This also requires the 103rd ESC to fore­cast exact­ly how much food, water, fuel and oth­er com­modi­ties it will need to move into Iraq to sus­tain a down­siz­ing force through Dec. 31, Luna said. The goal is to ship exact­ly what the force will need, and noth­ing that ends up being reshipped home.

“When it comes to sus­tain­ment, we know what we need to do based on the num­ber of [mil­i­tary, civil­ian and con­trac­tor per­son­nel] in the­ater,” Schwartz said. “But we cer­tain­ly want to make sure that when it comes to fuel capac­i­ty or the amount of rations, that we don’t over­do it. We have to keep close tabs on that.”

And in light of huge and mount­ing trans­porta­tion require­ments, the sus­tain­ers are ensur­ing that every vehi­cle that arrives in Iraq with sus­tain­ment sup­plies leaves full of out­go­ing mate­r­i­al.

“It takes trucks to bring sup­plies in, and it takes trucks to get equip­ment of out the the­ater,” Luna said. “So when those things are bal­anced, you are good to go. But it’s a very fine line, keep­ing that all bal­anced.”

Mean­while, the 103rd ESC is doing the detailed plan­ning its fol­low-on unit, the 310th Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand, will need when it takes over the sus­tain­ment and logis­ti­cal draw­down mis­sion this spring, Cor­son said.

Just as the 103rd ESC arrived in Iraq to car­ry out a mas­sive draw­down at the end of U.S. com­bat oper­a­tions, the 310th will over­see the final draw­down of U.S. forces in Iraq.

“We go home in April, but our com­mit­ment is to set the con­di­tions for suc­cess for the 310th Sus­tain­ment Com­mand as they come here to replace us so that there will be a seam­less tran­si­tion, just as we had a seam­less tran­si­tion back in July to accom­plish the mis­sion,” Cor­son said. “And I think that is very impor­tant to U.S. Forces Iraq.”

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →