Air Force Tech Sgt. Michael Lee Witherington Jr., an Elko, Ga., native, directs a fork lift as it loads a container before it is shipped to Araf Jan Air base in Kuwait, where its contents will be redistributed to various units throughout Iraq.

BAGHDAD - The identification and redistribution of mission essential equipment and materials already in theater is at the forefront of a multi-service effort to lower tax payer cost, while keeping units combat effective with the spare parts and equipment they need to remain in the fight here in Iraq.

Leading this endeavor is Mobile Redistribution Team three. This group of Airmen and Soldiers dedicate their time around multiple bases in country opening freight container after container, logging millions of dollars in new and serviceable equipment into a federal database.

"What is happening here when a unit re-deploys is they are leaving behind an abundance of essential equipment that no one is in control of," said Air Force Capt. William Glenn, Redistribution Team three officer in charge, from Bozeman, Mont. "So it is our job to identify these containers and inventory them, putting the contents back in circulation.

The team averages up to half a million dollars in brand new and serviceable equipment a day since cracking their first container nearly five months ago. With a wide array of materials, from vehicle parts to an infestation of rats nesting in new tank systems, the team is confident that if 'your unit has a need, they have the means.'

"We have our hands full, I literally had no idea what I was going to be getting myself into," said Tech Sgt. Michael L. Witherington Jr., the RDT3 yard noncommissioned officer in charge, from Elko, Ga. "We need commanders to realize the importance of this mission, because we have already seen such a wide variety of materials that have equaled a large amount of saved money for the Air Force and Army alike."

Once the contents of these containers are sorted out and logged, it is the Soldier, Airmen, Marine, and Sailor in theater who is reaping the benefits of the numerous hours that the RDT3 team puts in.

All materials and containers are transported to Camp Arifjan Air Base, Kuwait, where new parts are immediately put back into circulation for distribution. Likewise, serviceable parts are given the proper attention needed to once again be mission ready.

The amount of freight, some 50,000 pounds a day, is eclipsed only by its worth, and in these tight economic times even the military is finding a way to create those coupon clipper savings.

"This property is all open amnesty, there is no paper trail. We only have three guidelines, no [hazardous materials], no ammo, and no property book," said Glenn. "We do not want to create a hassle for those who contact us to complete a turn-in. We are mission focused and our mission is to keep our fighters fighting and to save our tax payers money, and with every container we open we are finding thousands of different ways to do that."

Page last updated Sat June 20th, 2009 at 12:13