Redistribution Point saves Lives, Money, Time
By Pfc. Abel Trevino
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — LSA Anaconda is home to a first of its kind warehouse in Iraq, the Retrograde Forward Distribution Point, the only facility in Iraq that collects excess supplies and parts then redistributes them to those units in need.
"There is a retrograde redistribution [facility] in Kuwait, but this is the only one in Iraq," said Capt. Louisa Bargeron, commander of the 424th Quartermaster Company.
The redistribution facility on post receives shipments of supplies, categorizes them and stores them until a unit requests the supplies, at which point they are shipped out.
"All the excess serviceable retrograde in theater, comes to [this warehouse] and we put everything here and store it and, as it's needed, we issue it out to customers in Iraq. Normally, what happens is the items go down to Kuwait and if somebody needs it they order it and it comes all the way back up here, so [this facility] cuts back on transportation and it's right here in theater if somebody else needs it," said Warrant Officer Donnet Gilbert, assistant accountable officer for the RFDP.
The warehouse works in conjunction with the Supply Support Activity ordering system.
"The basic concept is that we're a retention warehouse," Bargeron said. "Instead of the units ordering new parts, their supply [requests] have been redirected to this warehouse so if we have the parts we'll send them."
By sending parts already in theater, the retention program has saved time, money and lives.
"Not only have we saved the theater about $30 million, but we also reduce customer wait time dramatically," Bargeron said. "It saves money, it puts less lives out on the road, because you don't have as many convoys traveling back and forth on the road, nor do you have the huge customer wait time for parts back from the states."
Success of the program can be seen in the amount of business completed by the facility.
"In the early part of June, they come up with the idea to open up the RFDP and on July 26, we opened for business. Within that time, we have almost 7,000 lines of different classes of supplies here and we've issued out over 5,000 lines already," Gilbert said.
The items the warehouse relies on are excess items that units have or left behind when they redeployed to their home stations.
"The units that were here for (Operation Iraqi Freedom I), they had a lot of excess items that they ordered that came in that they didn't use or that came in after they left so [the parts] just stayed here in theater and that goes for the units that are here right now. A lot of things that are here and aren't being used are just sitting around in [containers]. All the excess [supplies] are being directed to us and we put [them] on our system so that [they] get visibility, so people in the theater and outside the theater can see what we have. If they can't get it from someplace, if their [supply supporting activity] can't support them, then we'll support them. We'll direct it out there," Gilbert said.
The ability to direct parts on such a large scale is a result of a diligent tracking system.
"Theater wide, anything that leaves this yard can be tracked. We load the manifest with all kinds of data and details. Now the theater has a way to track the items. Traditionally, what has happened in the past is units would requisition [parts] and items would go out, and then it'd be kind of like a stalemate. They'd get stuck in Kuwait or in Germany for weeks or months. Supply would not have an opportunity to really see where these items were getting held up. Units would wait for these items that would never come," Bargeron said. "The fact that we can send these items out with as much detail for the theater to track is another [advancement]."
The detailed tasking requires the constant attention of a small but dedicated crew.
"For such a big operation, we only have 30 Soldiers that are here and they pretty much work 24 hours. We have a 24-hour operation," Gilbert said. "The Soldiers go above and beyond trying to process the items and input [the information] so the items will be able to go out."
The operation has been open for six weeks and has supported troops throughout the theater by quickly dispensing needed supplies faster than the traditional supply system.
Editor's Note: Pfc. Trevino is assigned to the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. He is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda.
Soldiers unload supplies from one of the containers that house parts the facility distributes throughout Iraq. (Photo by Pfc. Abel Trevino, 28th Public Affairs Detachment)