1st Sustainment Brigade and the Retrograde Process

As Third Army continues to conduct the drawdown in Iraq, one of the main tasks they are faced with is moving the leftover equipment that has been used over the last seven years to sustain military operations in Iraq back to Kuwait.

Credit: 1st Sustainment Brigade

7/9/10

Soldiers of the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Third Army, were tasked with finding a predictable and flexible way to ship the left over equipment, known as retrograde, back to Kuwait as part of the largest modern military-logistics mission since World War II, named “Nickel II.”

With over 1.2 million pieces of equipment located on twenty-one Retrograde Property Assistance Team yards throughout Iraq, this proves to be no easy task.

“As we looked at the Phase IV of the Responsible Drawdown of ‘Nickel II’ we determined that we needed to come up with a new concept so we could pick up all of the retrograde across Iraq,” said Col. Donnie Walker, commander, 1st Sustainment Brigade.

By examining how the convoys were previously structured, 1st Sustainment Brigade was able to design a new way to transport the retrograde out of Iraq, thus creating the “Durable Express.”

“The Durable Express was created collectively by my brigade staff to be the first logistics convoy designed specifically to meet retrograde cargo requirements,” said Walker. “It is unique because it is a tailorable and predictable package based off of the retrograde that needs to be moved out of Iraq to Kuwait.”

The Durable Express is set up so the brigade can tailor a convoy with flatbed assets and heavy equipment transport based off of the needs of the movement control teams in Iraq.

But setting up the convoy is only half of the work required to bring the equipment down.

“We drive over 700 miles to all of the Forward Operating Bases (FOB) throughout Iraq, said Sgt. John Arnold, who serves as assistant convoy commander with 2nd Heavy Equipment Transportation Company, 164th Transportation Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Third Army. “When we arrive to the FOBs the retrograded equipment is quickly loaded onto the vehicles and logged to ensure all of the equipment is properly tracked.”

Once loaded, the convoy is able to move out until it reaches fifteen out of the twenty-one Retrograde Property Assistance Team yards to load and transport cargo out of Iraq.

  • Photo one shows flatbed and heavy equipment transport vehicles with the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Third Army, lined up as part of the Durable Express convoy that travels to 15 out of the 21 Retrograde Property Assistance Team yards to load and transport retrograde cargo out of Iraq.
  • Photos two, three and four show Spc. Jamie Jones who serves as a driver with 2nd Heavy Equipment Transportation Company, 164th Transportation Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Third Army, performs preventive maintenance combat services on a heavy equipment transport vehicle before he takes part of the Durable Express convoy.

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—General George Patton Jr.

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