Iraqi media observe responsible drawdown at VBC

Story and photos by Sgt. Michael Carden
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — Members of the media gathered to witness the progress and methods of the responsible drawdown of U.S. forced June 24 at Victory Base Complex, Iraq.

More than 20 journalists, representing both Iraqi and international news outlets, toured facilities at VBC where vehicles and equipment are inspected, processed and shipped out of Iraq to be sent either back to the United States or transported to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

The media day, hosted by Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, director for strategic effects for United States Forces – Iraq, offered the Iraqi people a more in-depth perspective of the responsible drawdown.

“It’s important for everyone to understand that we are keeping our commitment in accordance with the Security Agreement to conduct our drawdown in a responsible manner,” Lanza said. “While we do that, we’re simultaneously meeting our commitments to train, advise and assist the Iraqi security forces.”

Both missions happening concurrently ensures there are no gaps, either with the responsible drawdown, or assisting with Iraqi security operations, he said.

“It’s also a visual sign to the Iraqi people that, in accordance with the Security Agreement, we are meeting our obligations,” Lanza said. “We will continue to do so as we draw down and complete our mission in December of 2011.”

The journalists toured a vehicle shipping yard, where they observed hundreds of vehicles in various stages of processing—cleaning, inspecting and loading—for transportation out of the country.

Media then toured VBC’s central receiving and shipping point, operated by the 169th Seaport Operations Company, 373rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

The CRSP at VBC handles incoming and outgoing convoys every day, moving materials and equipment throughout Iraq. Equipment and materials from closing bases are catalogued, processed for shipping and packed for transport back to the United States, Lanza said.

The media also observed a local Iraqi trucking company load a convoy of flatbed trucks with containers full of equipment to be transported south to Kuwait.

"This is an opportunity to show the Iraqi people all the work being done to honor our agreement to drawdown U.S. forces, to show we want to do the right thing by them," said 1st Lt. Jacob Vishneski, officer-in-charge of the CRSP with the 169th SOC and a Virginia Beach, Va., native.

The tour ended with an inspection of the Defense Reutilization And Marking Office, where items are sorted and put back into the Army system, recycled or destroyed.

Lanza said there are currently seven different shipping hubs across Iraq like the one the media saw at VBC. Prior to beginning the drawdown process, U.S. forces conducted rehearsals to ensure that the process would run smoothly.

 

news photo
Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, director for strategic effects with United States Forces – Iraq, speaks with an Iraqi journalist June 24 during a media day at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Carden)

news photo
Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, director for strategic effects with United States Forces – Iraq, speaks with an Iraqi journalist June 24 during a media day at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Carden)

news photo
Soldiers with the 169th Seaport Operations Company, 373rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) supervise the loading of a cargo container June 24 in preparation for a logistics convoy at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Carden)