Air Force, Army work to speed up retrograde

Story by Sgt. Keith S. VanKlompenberg
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The transportation priority four team of the 2nd Battalion, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade at Joint Base Balad, Iraq have teamed up with units throughout Iraq, as well as the Air Force and Air Mobility Command, to speed up the retrograde process of theater equipment.

Most Army equipment is convoyed south to Kuwait where it is cleaned and inspected before being put on a ship back to the U.S., a very expensive process that can take 90 days, said Robert Guess, the deputy support operations officer for the 2-402nd AFSB.

Guess, a Miami native, said the TP4 team can get high priority equipment back to the U.S. for retrograde in one-third the time and for less money.

The TP4 program started in 2007 said Guess, when the Air Force started returning planes to the U.S. that had plenty of open cargo space. Space is filled according to priority, and when there isn’t enough priority one or two equipment to fill the planes, the TP4 team can take advantage, he said.

“The Stryker was a big success for us,” said Guess.

He said his team has successfully transported 40 Stryker light armored vehicles back to the U.S. on Air Force and Air Mobility planes that had cargo space.

The TP4 team has saved the Army more than three million dollars by flying track vehicles, generators and containers straight from JBB to the repair sites in the U.S., where they will be repaired and processed for return to units either in the U.S., or in Afghanistan, said Jesus Salazar, the TP4 Team supervisor and a Dalton, Ga., native.

“We were able to get more than 5,000 pieces of equipment out of theater to date,” said Salazar.

Salazar said his team works mostly with Brigade Combat Teams and Combat Aviation Brigades in Iraq, using Mobile Redistribution Property Assistance Teams to visit redeploying units to decide what equipment can forgo a convoy to Kuwait and instead process customs at JBB and leave Iraq directly.

Guess said the TP4 program’s participation in the responsible drawdown of Iraq is relatively small, but their efforts are still helping the process.

“We’re not just pushing everything to Kuwait and building that iron mountain,” said Salazar.


news photo
Strykers are loaded in to the back of an Air Mobility Command plane to be transported back to a source of repair in the U.S.
(Courtesy Photo)