Facing what Lt. Gen. James H. Pillsbury, Army Materiel Command deputy commanding general, called a tsunami of equipment to be returned to the United States, the 2nd Battalion, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade is doubling its capacity to return some high-priority equipment in a quick and cost effective manner to the warfighter faster.

For the last 17 months vehicles, palletized equipment and containers eligible for the Transportation Priority 4 (TP4) program have been shipped directly from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to the U.S. at a substantially reduced cost and in about one-third of the time of conventional shipping while maximizing cargo space on aircraft retuning to the States.

The battalion worked with both the U.S. Air Force and Air Mobility Command to leverage empty space on cargo planes headed back to the States and has shipped hundreds of items resulting in a cost avoidance of over $3.5 million. TP4 has also reduced the shipping time from an average of 90 days to about 32 days.

The advantages are maximizing use of cargo space on aircraft returning to the U. S.; reducing the number of convoys taking equipment out of Iraq; reducing the volume of equipment waiting to be transported from Kuwait; cost avoidance; faster delivery to the source of repair; and expediting reset and return of high-priority equipment to the War Fighter.

Recently the 15-person team at Balad began processing the first of 17 Strykers by having three driven onto their wash racks for a thorough cleaning inside and out. The armor was removed at the Stryker Forward Repair Area located a few blocks away. Sensitive electronic equipment was also removed.

Processing each vehicle should take about one day according to Jamie Salazar, TP4 Team supervisor. The vehicles are cleaned to meet strict standards using pressure washers and vacuum cleaners to ensure that there is no dirt, vegetation or insect infestation in or on the vehicles.

Fluid levels are also adjusted to required levels "These guys [TP4 team] are excellent," said Salazar. "They know what customs looks for."

Before being loaded onto huge cargo planes, U.S. Navy customs inspectors inspect the vehicles while they are still on the wash racks. When the inspectors arrive, drivers are standing by and all the paperwork for shipment and onward disposition is in hand so that there will be no delay when the vehicles are cleared.

Once cleared by customs, the vehicles are moved to a 'sterile yard' to wait for shipment and then flown directly to the U.S. and will be routed to appropriate sources of repair.

The Balad TP4 site has a capacity to process four vehicles at a time and it takes from one to three days to process each vehicle. TP4 throughput will be doubled in September when a second site opens at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad. That facility will mirror the Balad one with the same manning and capacity.

Page last updated Thu October 1st, 2009 at 17:34