Soldiers move excess munitions out of Iraq as part of drawdown
Spc. Anthony Zavala, an ammunition specialist with the 63rd Ordnance Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a New York City native, loads belts of ammunition to be shipped to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, March 11, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Beans and bullets, as the old Army adage goes, keep the U.S. military running strong.

As the responsible drawdown of forces and equipment escalates following the Iraqi Parliamentary elections in March, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers are ensuring the proper retrograde of ammunition in conjunction with troop levels.

"There are four different actions that are currently being taken with excess ammo. It is shipped back to Kuwait, where it can be stored and used at a later date in other areas of operations; it will be sent to (Operation Enduring Freedom) if needed; if it is unserviceable, it is demilitarized in country; or if requested it will be sold to the Iraqi Army through Foreign Military Sales," said Master Sgt. Jarrett Roemer, the 13th ESC support operations ammunition noncommissioned officer in charge.

Soldiers in Iraq are hard at work shipping bullets, among other things, to Afghanistan in support of OEF. By sending ammunition to Afghanistan, the benefit is twofold, said Roemer, a Floresville, Texas, native.

First, the Soldiers on the frontlines in support of OEF receive the tools they need to take the fight to the enemy, he said.

"Some of the ammo we have is important to OEF, because some of it is in short supply in Kuwait and we may have more than we need due to years of ammo being pushed into Iraq," said Roemer.

Second, shipping supplies directly from Iraq helps keep extra trucks and troops off the roads, potentially saving lives, he said. "By sending the ammo straight from Iraq, you alleviate the need for the ammo to be shipped to Kuwait," said Roemer.

"More than 2,400 short tons of ammunition have been retrograded, demilitarized, or shipped to Afghanistan since the 13th ESC took over logistical operations for the Iraqi theater in August," said Chief Warrant Officer Denise Miceli, the 13th ESC support operations ammunition technician.

Roemer said despite how much ammo they have already moved, they still have a ways to go.

"The goal for the 13th, when it comes to the subject of retrograde, is by the end of our tour to have removed about 4,200 short tons of ammo from Iraq," he said.

The responsible drawdown of troops and equipment takes a lot of work behind the scenes, but Soldiers on the front lines of logistics operations here in Iraq know the importance of their mission, said Pfc. Candace Moore, an ammunition stock control and accounting specialist with the 63rd Ordnance Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th ESC.

Moore, a Lake Charles, La., native, said, "I'm proud of the work we do, because I'm part of something big and not a lot of people can say that."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16