Leaders discuss drawdown at JBB logistics conference

Story and photos by Pfc. Lisa Cope
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Key leaders from throughout Iraq came together March 31 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to discuss the responsible drawdown of personnel and equipment from April to September, and the reduction of the U.S. footprint in Iraq.

The 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) hosted the conference at Morale, Welfare and Recreation center east.

Lt. Col. Lisa Keough, the 13th SC(E) distribution management center chief and an Aurora, Colo., native, said the purpose of the conference was to synchronize the division plans with United States Forces – Iraq and other U.S. forces in the Iraq Joint Operations Area.

"All the logistic units are represented, to include the Army Materiel Command, Defense Logistics Agency and all our national partners, to make sure we have all the details of the responsible drawdown synched up," she said.

Keough said this is a busy time for all logistics personnel because they have to get a lot of equipment and people out of Iraq in a relatively short amount of time.

"Anything that moves in theater, we touch," she said. "We have been using the 49th Movement Control Battalion and they have been a big asset to us for what we do."

Keough said they have to ensure units are fully capable to succeed at the division level, and this conference was held to get everybody on the same page from the start.

"We have a lot of work to do, and right now we're working together to accomplish the mission," she said.

Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general of the 13th SC(E) and a Mansfield, Ohio, native, said it is time to get everybody working together for one common goal, to reduce the footprint in Iraq by September.

"It's all about getting it right, now," said Wentz. "So when we pass it on to the next folks, it will be an easy transition for them."

Participants also discussed upcoming base closures in the next 45 days. The biggest during this time period, Camp Korean Village, Iraq, is scheduled to close May 9.

Col. Gust Pagonis, 13th SC(E) support operations officer in charge and a Pittsburgh native, said USF-I and the 13th SC(E) have a lot of work to do.

"A lot has to be done and our resources are dwindling (due) to the drawdown," said Pagonis. "We have to make effective use of what we get out of theater, such as ammo and fuel."

Brig. Gen. Gus Perna, the USF-I joint logistics officer and a New Jersey native, said the dialogue at the logistics conference was great.

"I think we can agree that, with the people around this table, we are going to make this happen," said Perna. "One thing is clear, the status quo is not an answer. If we are not adjusting and paying attention to details in the next 21 months, it won't happen."

Wentz said a lot is up to the brigade level and below to turn plans into actions.

"Collectively, we have to do it together to support the phase five drawdown of forces," he said.

Although they do not have all the pieces in place yet, Wentz said he believes they will when the next ESC takes over in August.

"When we are getting ready to leave and stuff really starts flowing out of here, let's make it right for them," he said. "Their task is going to be extremely hard, so let's do what we need to do to make it a little easier."


news photo
Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Mansfield, Ohio, native, and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark D. Joseph, senior enlisted adviser for the 13th SC(E) and a Lake Charles, La., native, look over information presented at the 13th SC(E) logistics conference at Morale, Welfare and Recreation center east March 31 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.