According to current agreements as of December 31st 2011, the 41,000 military personnel in Iraq will have left and the final 22 bases will have been closed or handed over to the Iraqis. Eight years of conflict leaves a lot of material, equipment and trash. We have gone from a high of 505 bases and 165,000 troops to the current levels in a short time but the count down to the end of the mission continues rapidly. One point six million (1.6M) pieces of equipment have been moved from the Iraq theatre to other missions according to Maj Gen Thomas Spoehr but seven hundred thousand plus (700K+) remain.
Maj Gen Thomas W SpoehrGen Spoehr is the United States Forces – Iraq, Deputy Commanding General for Support and he talked to the Bloggers Roundtable about the withdrawal and the effort required to bring the troops home. The logistics folks are still delivering fuel (964,000 pounds a day – about 160,000 gallons), the clean up continues with 6.8 M pounds of scrap sold in October… the numbers go on for a long time but reality is that the folks still there are working hard to make the departure a healthy, protected, safe one. The quality of life has become, “expeditionary” in bases that are closing and “austere” in the last two weeks before closing according to Spoehr. Meals Ready to Eat and mail will be stopped but one bit of great news is that contact with families and friends through the internet usually continues because local Iraqi business internet providers are open for business till the end.
The general described this effort “as achieving a velocity never seen before in military operations”. Remember the pictures following Desert Storm of huge backlogs of equipment stacked in Kuwait? The seamless support from air and ship movements in conjunction with land movement to the ports has been exceptional. He credited the use of computers and scanners as critical to the effort with an embedded team of experts from Transportation Command helping make the personnel and equipment movements go well. Deciding on what to move takes on a new priority when the cost is considered! It takes about $40K to move a 40 foot container of “stuff” from Iraq to the United States according Spoehr! Wow.
What about the legacy of American commitment to Iraq? He said that the sacrifices of US Forces have given the Iraqis a new opportunity to govern themselves. With fewer and fewer attacks occurring in the country, the type of peace that follows this time period of war will soon be up to the Iraqis themselves! We will need a big shout out on December 31st for all of those who serve or served during this conflict! Thank you is not enough but it is a start!
To listen to an audio or read a transcript of this DoD Bloggers Roundtable please go DoDLive. If you are interested in other posts from MilAve_Col_K please go to Our Letters to You: A Military Family Blog
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