Iraq Drawdown on Track
Iraq Drawdown on Track,
Transcom Official Says
By Terri Moon Cronk, American
Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. -- August 5, 2011 – (AFPS)
From pens to Bradley fighting vehicles, 1.17 million pieces of military
equipment have been moved out of Iraq over the past year, as the Dec. 31
deadline for U.S. forces to be out of Iraq approaches, a U.S. Transportation
Command official said this week.
“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.
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.
“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
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.
Workers walk by shipping containers
before offloading them from the Military Sealift Command ship MV Virginian in
Kuwait, March 19, 2011, as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.
“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],”
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 easier 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,”
Army Pvt. Tyler Duke guides a Stryker
armored vehicle onto the bed of a trailer truck in Kuwait, Aug. 26, 2010, for
transport to the United States as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.
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.