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)