Unit retrogrades seven years of equipment

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

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq — Infantry Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard have dual roles at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq. Their primary mission is convoy security escorts, in charge of securing theater essential commodities. However, due to the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq, they have been assigned another mission — retrograding seven years worth of equipment from Iraq.

The 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), has been tasked with collecting and reallocating more than 1,660 pieces of equipment by June 2010 when it relocates to Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

“Our only focus (was) to deploy as convoy security companies,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Bordelon, supply noncommissioned officer-in-charge with 3rd Bn., 156th Inf. Regt. and a Lake Charles, La., native. “We’ve (become) ‘turn-in’ companies also, because we have to get rid of all the excess gear from seven years.”

As units moved in and out of theater during the last seven years, they stockpiled equipment essential for their missions, such as Armored Security Vehicle parts, tank parts, satellite phones, weapons, electrocardiogram machines and generators.

Because the responsible drawdown is being geared up, and many units, who’s vehicles have been upgraded, are nearing the end of their mission, there isn’t a need for the outdated equipment.

“The whole brigade is nominated to turn in 17,000 pieces of theater provided equipment,” said Lt. Col. David Gooch, commander of 3rd Bn., 156th Inf. Regt. and an Abbeyville, La., native. “We are responsible for the turn-in, because we are at the end of the line for seven years of equipment.”

During the last month and a half, the maintenance section from the battalion has turned in more than $1.9 million worth of parts, such as belts, starters and tires for redistribution. These items will be recycled back into the Army supply system, Gooch said.

“I have tank parts,” Gooch said. “I haven’t seen a tank in Iraq since I’ve been here. I’m sure there (are) some still around, but certainly not near the number of tanks in 2005.”

Once the items have been identified for turn-in, there is a process of many different steps and procedures. Attention to detail is key to the success of this mission, Bordelon said.

“Whenever excess equipment is identified, a request is sent to our brigade and the higher echelons to get it (added to) a theater redistribution asset manager (list),” Bordelon said. “They take that list and see if any other unit in Iraq or Afghanistan needs the equipment. If not, then they send an order to turn it in and send it back to the states.”

Once the equipment is identified on the TRAM, it can either be prepared be for turn-in or transferred to another unit who needs the equipment for their mission, Bordelon said.

If the item is marked for turn-in, which most items are, the Louisianans take it to the retrograde property assistance team yard where it is sent back to the U.S, he said.

Once the items are in the yard, a unit from Kuwait drives to Al Asad, loads the items on the convoy and brings them back down to Kuwait for redistribution, Bordelon said.

“It’s a big logistical move,” said Sgt. Dustin Guillory, a sniper with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Bn., 156th Inf. Regt. and a Lake Charles, La., native. “We have to be a well-oiled machine to get this equipment out of here and turned in. We need everybody, in addition to their daily duties, to take time out to help us get this gear turned in.”

This turn-in is part of the big picture – facilitating the responsible drawdown and setting the conditions for the future success of Iraq, he said.

 

news photo
Sgt. Dustin Guillory, a sniper and with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Lake Charles, La., native, checks serial numbers on equipment prepared for turn in. The 3rd Bn., 156th Inf. Regt. has been tasked with collecting and reallocating more than 1,660 pieces of equipment before they relocate to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, in June, 2010. (U.S. Army Kimberly Johnson)

news photo
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) check serial numbers of items prepared for turn-in. The 256th IBCT has been chosen to turn in more than 17,000 pieces of theater provided equipment as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment in Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson)