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Soldiers transfer materiel in Iraq drawdown

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 04, 2011) -- With a massive departure from Iraq looming at the end of this year, U.S. forces there are busy divvying up gear to either send it home, send it to Afghanistan, or hand it over to the Iraqis.

Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Richardson, the U.S. Forces-Iraq J4, said his command is using multiple legal authorities to ensure the proper disposal of government-owned property.

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"We have a very deliberate process here of how we are going to close out what we have been doing here for the past several years," he said. "(And to) make sure we are good stewards of the American taxpayer's dollars -- that's very important to us. We want to make sure we have good accountability and we have auditable trails of where the equipment is going."

Richardson spoke from Iraq, during a telephone media event regarding USF-I's role as they begin re-posturing forces in that country.

Operation New Dawn began with 94 military sites in Iraq, in September 2010. Today, that's down to 48 sites. Seven more sites will shut down in August, Richardson said.

"We've been shutting sites down throughout this last year," he said.

The land those sites are on doesn't belong to the U.S. government or military. That's "real" property. But there is personal property there -- things to sustain the buildings, the generators, the air conditioners and other things that can be transferred when the land goes back to the Iraqis.

"FOB (forward operating base) in a box," Richardson said -- characterizing the way USF-I returns military sites to the Iraqis. "The containerized housing units, T-walls, jersey barriers, water and fuel tanks, air conditioning units, generators, refrigerators, freezers, port-a-johns, beds and mattresses, office equipment, tents, guard shacks, dining facility equipment, washers and dryers."

It's everything the Iraqis will need, at least at the start, to sustain their operations on those sites when they take them back from the Americans.

Other items, like forklifts, fire department equipment, other types of large trucks -- non-tactical vehicles for instance -- can also be transferred, but Richardson said USF-I needs "additional authority" to do so.

So far, Richardson said, about $157 million in property from Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 has been transferred, and about $247 million in property from Operation New Dawn. Property value is not based on purchase price -- but instead on its value after having been in use since 2003.

"That's gone to various ministries: Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Defense, other security forces, other ministries," Richardson said.

Richardson said more than 67,000 items have been slated for transfer to the Government of Iraq, and USF-I is about 58 percent complete on the process.

Some property, weapon systems in particular, may also be sold to the Iraqis instead of being transferred at no cost.

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