15th Sust. Bde. continues drawdown efforts
March 31, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - A small team of Soldiers from different units subordinate to 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), opened an Operation Clean Sweep yard here in early March.
The "Wagonmasters" began Operation Clean Sweep in mid October in order to find excess equipment to place back into the military supply system for reuse and continue the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq.
"The primary focus for Operation Clean Sweep is to take non-mission essential equipment ... serviceable equipment not being used and shuffle it back into the Army supply system," said 2nd Lt. Chris Johnston, a Tacoma, Wash., native and the officer in charge for the Q-West and Marez mobile redistribution teams.
"We go to the units and pick all this up and coordinate," Spc. Michael Demars, an MRT member and Fremont, Calif., native said.
"We do a walk through before the pickup - help separate items so it's less work when it gets to the yard."
The units, or an Army civilian contractor, then transports the equipment to the Clean Sweep yard where it is put into shipping containers and sent to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, for further processing and eventually shipping to the U.S. or Afghanistan, he said.
Only four days after receiving orders to start tracking equipment in dollar amounts at the Q-West yard, $1 million of serviceable equipment was turned in, Johnston said.
"They're doing a stellar job," Johnston said of the team.
"The true test is whether the teams can control themselves - and that's what they're doing now."
Johnston said that MRT Soldiers like Sgt. Tim Slater of Paris, Ill., and Pfc. Joshua Miller of Reading, Penn., make it all possible.
Johnston explained that Paris was doing the job of a Soldier two ranks higher than him.
"Sergeant Slater got sent off on the MRT thing about 6 months ago," Johnston said.
Slater went from base to base helping along the mission of Operation Clean Sweep throughout Northern Iraq, he said.
"Pfc. Miller is pretty much our only forklift driver. Without him, all operations would pretty much come to a standstill," Johnston said.
He explained that when the team didn't have a forklift to use, Miller convinced his own company to lend them a forklift. Miller also fixes his own forklift, Johnston said.
One look around the yard and one could see a wide variety of turned-in equipment including filing cabinets, tent poles, a big screen TV, and even a mini bike.
"The strangest thing I've seen turned in - old commo equipment that we haven't used since desert storm," Demars said.
Demars said he learned a lot about how the Army progressed after seeing some of the older equipment turned in.