Army, Air Force combine effort for drawdown

Story and photos by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson
196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) Public Affairs

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — Army and Air Force units are working together here, to set the conditions for the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq.

Capt. William D. Foster, commander of the 458th Movement Control Team, 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary), and a native of Belleville, Ill., noticed there were Air Force C-5A “Galaxy” transport aircraft often parked at Al Asad and coordinated with Capt. John Klohr, aerial port flight commander with the 532nd Expenditionary Operations Support Squadron, and a Charlotte, N.C., native, about how to increase the usage of cargo space on the flights back to the states, Foster said.

“I asked Capt. Klohr what was going back on those planes and he said, unfortunately, they were going back empty,” Foster said.

From that moment, the relationship and coordination with the Air Force, to start filling those planes with unused excess equipment no longer needed by troops in Iraq, began,

After a few meetings between the two men and their teams, the effort was dubbed “The C-5 Initiative,” and since the beginning of May, the 458th MCT has filled Air Force C-5A planes with more than 200,000 pounds of equipment to be retrograded back to the U.S., Foster said.

“What we are doing is trying to be as efficient as possible in getting all the equipment out of (theater),” he said.

In addition to the timesaving factor of finding a way to fill the C-5As with equipment, taking only days to ship equipment that would otherwise take weeks on a cargo ship, this effort is saving hours of service member labor and U.S. government money, Foster and Klohr said.

“We are trying to look at it from a Department of Defense, joint effort perspective,” Klohr said. “We let the joint services know we have unused space, costing less than it would to send the items on a ship.”

“According to an air-cost formula we use, we have saved the Army $700,000 so far in this joint effort,” Klohr said. “That’s money they reallocate somewhere else and it relieves the stress on the entire Defense Transportation System. There is only so much space to get this equipment back and we need to use every inch.”

According to Klohr, the upcoming drawdown is the largest since World War II, and because of that, the Army is using most of its assets already.

“(The upcoming drawdown is) a big responsibility and we need to work together,” Foster said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t work together, (the Air Force has) assets and we have assets.”

The service members of the 458th MCT ensure their convoy sustainment mission is completed, as well as ground-to-air operations. They run convoy operations for everything that moves in and out of Al Asad, on the ground and in the air.

“We accept the responsibility of the C-5A mission because we get troops involved (in the upcoming drawdown) and we are saving the government money in the long run,” said Master Sgt. Shannon Woulard, officer-in-charge of ground operations with the 458th and a Dallas, Texas, native. “That’s the overall picture anyway, we are here to help Iraq and we’re going to save our own country money. C-5As are empty, let’s fill them up.”

news photo
An Airman guides a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle onto a Heavy Equipment Transporter. The MRAP and thousands of pieces of military equipment are being retrograded out of the Iraqi theater, as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq. The 458th Movement Control Team, 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) recently joined efforts with the Air Force to more efficiently send equipment back to the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson)

news photo
A Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle is loaded onto a Heavy Equipment Transporter. The MRAP and thousands of pieces of military equipment are being retrograded out of the Iraqi theater, as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq. The 458th Movement Control Team, 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) recently joined efforts with the Air Force to send equipment more efficiently back to the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson)

 

news photo
An Airman guides a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle onto a Heavy Equipment Transporter. The MRAP and thousands of pieces of military equipment are being retrograded out of the Iraqi theater, as part of the upcomming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq. The 458th Movement Control Team, 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) recently joined efforts with the Air Force to more efficiently send equipment back to the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson)

news photo
Airmen load a 105mm howitzer onto a C-17 “Globemaster” transport aircraftat Al Asad Air base, Iraq. The 458th Movement Control Team, 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) recently joined efforts with the Air Force to more efficiently send equipment back to the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson)