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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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Drawdown in Iraq

By Jason M. Webb | | January 28, 2010

In August, Marine Corps Logistics Command-Forward, Iraq, in combination with Multi National Forces West, made the decision to streamline the process of withdrawing equipment from Iraq.

Within months, the co-located Retrograde Lots at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, were consolidated and moved to Al Asad Air Base, thus making one point for all equipment leaving the Iraqi theater.

Dec. 1 marked the opening of the consolidated Retrograde Lot, and since then, vehicles, equipment and container boxes have been steadily flowing back to the United States or directly to support combat operations in Afghanistan.

According to Maj. Charles Hill, former operations officer of the Logistics Retrograde Team in Al Asad, Iraq and currently C4 project manager, the process for returning equipment bound for the United States or Afghanistan has been streamlined since there is one focal point, and his team has taken the burden off the individual units.

In the past, operating forces logisticians, in combination with the supply chain, had to use the units’ resources to return the equipment using more manpower and assets to achieve the same goal.

“We took the responsibility for getting their equipment to the ports and back to the United States away from the operating forces and actually assumed that role,” Hill said. “ The equipment that came back to the United States or over to Afghanistan came through our lot.” 

Since locating to Al Asad Air Base, and using one venue to return the equipment, Hill said that units can now return equipment more efficiently.

The process of returning equipment bound for the U.S. or Afghanistan is done by a network of trucking, maritime shipping or airlift.

Each individual piece of equipment is categorized for the various methods of traveling back to the U.S.

A Humvee used in Iraq takes less than two months to return to Albany and usually travels by ship.

Typically, it has to be trucked from Al Asad Air Base south of Iraq. The Marines use local truck drivers to accomplish that mission and they have a 22-day window to get it to Kuwait. After that, the Humvee is processed at the port in Kuwait and shipped by sea which takes approximately an additional 12 days. 

Depending on which port through which it enters, either Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, Fla., or Charleston, S.C., it then has to be trucked to Albany, Ga. That takes a few additional days. Once it arrives at the port and is trucked here, its journey will have taken approximately 45 days from the Middle East. Some equipment may take longer if bound for Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow,  Calif.

Since Al Asad Air Base became the single entity for returning equipment in December, Hill said that his team of nine Marines and 31 contractors has worked nonstop, yet saved vital time and fleet manpower by focusing the return effort in one place.

“The Marine Corps Logistics Command does a really great job at supporting the warfighter forward deployed,” Hill said. “From all the containers stacked on base I saw two months ago, it was good to see that they arrived here on time and in good condition the way we planned it.”