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Army to balance Iraq drawdown, reset for least impact on Soldiers

By C. Todd Lopez

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2010) -- The process of drawing down and resetting equipment in Iraq to meet the 2011 pull-out deadline set by the president must not affect Soldier dwell time, according to the Army's top logisticians.

Part of the drawdown means moving equipment now in Iraq out of country and placing it elsewhere -- in the United States or in another theater of operations, such as Afghanistan. Part of that means reset -- the equipment moved may need to be replaced, recapitalized, or repaired, for instance, depending on what will happen to it.

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Also part of the reset process is ensuring Soldiers have time to recuperate from deployment, said Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commander, Army Materiel Command.

"We have to remember that is the dwell time for our Soldiers," Dunwoody said to members of the press, Feb. 25, at the 2010 Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare Winter Symposium and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"They come back, they need time to be integrated with their families, get on vacation, get rest, and get reintegrated after a deployment of a year of deployment or longer," she said. "Our job after that reset period can't be one that's disruptive."

Dunwoody said that efforts to take back equipment from units, or to field it back to them, must not interfere with dwell -- the time Soldiers spend at home.

Synchronization of the equipment reset process, across the Army, and matching that up against the Army's force generation model -- ARFORGEN -- can ensure that Soldiers get reset just like the equipment they use in theater, she said.

"We are trying to adapt the way we reset to allow us to do that," Dunwoody said. "Take the equipment back early and then redeliver it back at the end of their dwell time. Knowing what units are in reset, knowing which units are in training and available, and knowing which ones are deployed, allows us to focus the resources we have based on where they are in the ARFORGEN cycle."

Lt. Gen. James H. Pillsbury, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, now leads the Responsible Reset Task Force, out of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The task force has been asked to tackle the complex challenge of managing the reset of equipment in Iraq.

Equipment in Iraq includes tens of thousands of containers and vehicles, as well as millions of pieces of equipment. One of the challenges faced in Iraq, Pillsbury said, was a large amount of equipment not accounted for -- making it difficult to keep track of.

"Drawdown challenges are many," he said. "When we first started, the Army Field Support Brigade in Iraq started receiving equipment -- a lot of it was not brought to record."

A lot of equipment, Pillsbury said, was not on Army books. But that has been fixed now, as equipment at forward operating bases is now accounted for in property books.

"We are finding that equipment brought to our yards in preparation for the withdrawal -- in most cases, have been brought to record," Pillsbury said.

Pillsbury said the Army is now doing a "fabulous job" in bringing down rolling stock -- Army vehicles -- from Iraq, for instance.

"About six to eight months ago, the metric was established to bring out 1,500 pieces of rolling stock a month," he said. The Army has exceeded that goal every month, he said.

Right now, Pillsbury said, the Army is on target to meet the drawdown goals.

"The velocity is there to get the necessary equipment out on the timelines that the president has established," he said.

One final destination for some equipment, Pillsbury said, is foreign military sales -- the transfer of equipment in theater to the militaries of coalition partners. The general said the process to move those things into sales has been smooth.

"Gen. Chris Tucker at U.S. Army Security Assistance Command ... has done a marvelous job of expediting the FMS process," he said. "That process needed to be leaned -- it was and it is and continues to be."

One second-tier effect of the drawdown in Iraq is dealing with the non-standard equipment in the country -- Army-owned equipment that was purchased specifically for use in theater, but that the Army doesn't really know how to use elsewhere. Some 5,000 different types of equipment exist, Dunwoody said.

"We have a lot of capability out there that doesn't reside on our documents," Dunwoody said. "What we are doing with the help of Training and Doctrine Command, and the department, now that we have visibility of those non-standard items, is get determination of whether it is an enduring capability, whether it is something that goes into stocks for future operations, something to be disposed, or something to be transferred."

In the recent fiscal year 2011 budget that went forward to congress, some $11 billion was marked for the reset process, said Lt. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, deputy chief of staff, G-4.

"We are well funded, no complaints this year or next if Congress passes the budget," Stevenson said. "But certainly that which has gone forward from OSD, we are happy with, and we can execute the mission with that amount of money."

Stevenson said the drawdown mission in Iraq is going as planned.

"In every measureable way, whether it is number of bases, number of vehicles, number of containers, number of supply support activities, number of people -- we are ahead of the plan developed many months ago,' he said. "And so you should feel really good about that."

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