U.S. Army in massive operation to shift men, resources from Iraq to Afghanistan

13:07, April 03, 2010      

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A U.S. Army general in charge of logistical aspect of Iraq drawdown and Afghanistan buildup said Friday the military is ahead of plans to shift resources from Iraq to Afghanistan, the largest equipment build-up since World War II, according to the Pentagon.

Army Lt. Gen. William G. Webster, Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command's 3rd Army, said the Afghanistan buildup is the largest in terms of equipment since World War II. When the drawdown operation in Iraq began in June, about 2.8 million items of equipment, along with 88,000 containers, were identified, he noted.

After U.S. President Barack Obama announced in December the administration is sending 30,000 fresh troops to Afghanistan, initial estimates suggested the buildup of troops and equipment would take about 18 months to maintain a responsible drawdown of some of the same equipment in Iraq.

Webster said months later, the equipment build-up in Afghanistan runs ahead of plans. As of March 29, 35 percent of material and equipment, as well as 21,000 troops, have been redeployed from Iraq since Obama's announcement. Nearly half of the equipment due out of Iraq has been identified or is being processed for Afghanistan, he said.

"We now will be able to move the 5,000-plus vehicles that are needed for the buildup by the end of the summer," he said, about a year ahead of schedule to equip inbound troops with mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs. Basic humvees and other tactical vehicles are part of the changeover, too.

Much of the U.S. equipment leaving Iraq is being refurbished in Kuwait where 3rd Army's theater headquarters is located. Afghanistan-bound equipment will be reconfigured to fit that country's terrain and environment. More than 2,600 reconfigured MRAPs, including the all-terrain version, have already arrived in Afghanistan.

Webster said redistribution of vehicles and equipment from Iraq has resulted in more than 992 million U.S. dollars in defense savings. Some of the equipment in Iraq is too worn for deployment to Afghanistan and will be sent back to the United States for training. Other equipment in Iraq will be left there for the Iraqi military.

Source: Xinhua


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