Pentagon Official Lauds Military Logistics System

ARLINGTON, Va. — The military’s logis­tics sys­tem has per­formed “extreme­ly well” on the front end of sup­port­ing warfight­ers these past 10 years, a senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cial said today.

“The department’s logis­tics sys­tem is actu­al­ly per­form­ing extreme­ly well for what it is designed to do, which is sup­port­ing forces engaged in com­bat,” said Alan F. Estevez, assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for logis­tics and materiel readi­ness.

Estevez praised the defense logis­tics sys­tem dur­ing the 2011 Defense Logis­tics Con­fer­ence which fea­tured cor­po­rate spon­sors such as IBM, Northrop Gru­man, Hon­ey­well and Rock­well Collins.

“If you look at what we have done in sus­tain­ing and rede­ploy­ing our forces in Iraq, [and] in surg­ing and sus­tain­ing our forces in Afghanistan — all that going on simul­ta­ne­ous­ly — we’ve done a mag­nif­i­cent job,” he said.

Estevez not­ed peo­ple tend to look at logis­tics as the behind-the-scenes “tail” in the depart­ment. “We real­ly can’t look at logis­tics as ‘tail’ from the per­spec­tive of the Depart­ment of Defense,” he said. “That com­bat pow­er that’s on the ground today in Afghanistan, putting the hurt on the Tal­iban, is there because of a logis­tics sys­tem that is capa­ble of putting it into a land­locked coun­try.

“And [it’s capa­ble of] sus­tain­ing it there and doing like­wise in anoth­er war,” Estevez con­tin­ued. “Plus, [it is] capa­ble of doing things like Haiti relief, tsuna­mi relief, and earth­quake relief across the globe.

“So I’d sub­mit to you that logis­tics is not ‘tail,’ ” he added. “It’s not a back-end func­tion inside the Depart­ment of Defense.”

Estevez cit­ed the effi­cien­cy of the defense logis­tic sys­tem in Iraq. “In the next month we’ll be out of Iraq,” he said. “Your logis­tics sys­tem has just done a phe­nom­e­nal job in pos­tur­ing the force.”

A year or so ago, Estevez not­ed, the U.S. had about 500 bases in Iraq. Today, there are six bases oper­at­ing in Iraq, aside from sites that will be used for the Office of Secu­ri­ty Coop­er­a­tion-Iraq, and the State Depart­ment.

Estevez com­pared the amount of U.S. equip­ment and forces in Iraq pri­or to the draw­down with the country’s cur­rent fig­ures.

“Over the last year, since Sep­tem­ber of 2010, as we embarked on Oper­a­tion New Dawn, there were about 2.15 mil­lion pieces of equip­ment in Iraq,” he said. “Today, there’s about 346,000 pieces in Iraq.”

“Not all of that will be com­ing out,” he added. “Some of that will remain in Iraq. It is no longer usable for U.S. forces, and on the oth­er hand, it is usable for Iraqi forces.”

Today, there are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, with near­ly 800 depart­ing each day, com­pared to 46,000 troops as recent­ly as mid­sum­mer of this year, Estevez said.

The assis­tant sec­re­tary not­ed as U.S. forces have drawn down, they’ve helped build up Iraqi capa­bil­i­ties, with about $400 mil­lion worth of gear, so they are capa­ble of sus­tain­ing them­selves. “On the back­side of that, we’ve saved $700 mil­lion by not hav­ing to haul that stuff out of Iraq and back home where we, the U.S. mil­i­tary, have no use for it,” he said.

How­ev­er, unit duty gear comes back with the units, Estevez said.

Mean­while, the Defense and State depart­ments are work­ing close­ly in a “whole-of-gov­ern­ment” approach to sus­tain Iraqi capa­bil­i­ties, he said.

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