BAGHDAD — Multi-National Corps – Iraq recently began phase two of its safe and responsible withdrawal, and now looks to the challenge of shipping 80,000 troops and their equipment out of country.
Although MNC-I just finished phase one – setting the conditions – it moved into phase two without pause, said Lt. Col. Tammie Pettit, MNC-I logistics plans chief, at an MNC-I conference in Camp Victory’s Al Faw Palace, Aug. 15.
“It’s been a lot of hard work for a lot of people,” Pettit said. “We’ve done pretty well.”
Brig. Gen. Heidi Brown is commanding the responsible drawdown of troops in Iraq from roughly 130,000 today to 50,000 by August 2010. Additionally, the number of civilian contractors in country is slated to be reduced to roughly 75,000, Brown said.
Based on Brown’s directives, Pettit said MNC-I plans to reduce the number of bases from nearly 200 to six Multi-Class Supply Support Activity Hubs—with roughly 20 smaller bases, called spokes—by September 2010, with complete withdrawal by December 2011.
“None of this is negotiable,” said Pettit. “This is a mission we cannot fail.”
MNC-I teams inventory, repair and update items the U.S. military will transport to other overseas Areas of Operation or back to the United States. The teams also arrange for items to be transferred to Iraqi control to boost the Iraqi Security Forces as the U.S. withdraws, Pettit said.
“We’re really starting to prime the pump to get stuff moving out of here,” she said. “We’ll continue to support [Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan] where we can.”
She said phase two of the drawdown will build on the steps taken during phase one, when non-essential equipment was identified, and in phase two, it will be retrograded, transferred or redirected to support other U.S. military priorities.
Phase three will focus on safety operations, Pettit said. The retrograde of equipment not required to support the upcoming elections in Iraq will allow units to focus on enhancing route security, moving forward with the drawdown and supporting redeploying units, she said.
“Protection of the force will still be paramount during this drawdown,” Pettit said.
Throughout Iraq, the many shipping containers filled with equipment and parts present a particularly large challenge in the drawdown, said Pettit. Units should look within themselves for the personnel necessary to expedite this process safely, she said.
“It’s going to take everybody,” she said. “There is a lot of work to do. The folks following all of us are going to have a really difficult job.”
(By Spc. Brandy Oxford, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)