CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche, Army Materiel Command G-3, toured retrograde operations at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 7, as the pace and volume of Soldiers and equipment flowing out of Iraq surged.

"The flow is extremely high now," said Lt. Col. William Cain, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion commander, who briefed Wyche and Brig. Gen. Steven Feldmann, deputy commanding general, Responsible Reset Task Force, on equipment turn-in operations.

Cain and his 541st Pacesetters are working long, hard days and nights, not only to receive the massive quantities of gear as the United States meets a year-end deadline to depart Iraq, but to enable the troops coming out of the country to board flights home with a minimum of delay.

"We've got to get Motor Pool 9 clear. What I didn't want to happen was: 'Sorry, you guys can't come through today' . . . and the flow of equipment in and out doesn't back up. Everything is based on flow through Motor Pool 9 to make their flights out," he said.

Up to 2,000 Soldiers a day turn in vehicles and equipment, proceed through pre-departure processing and board flights for the United States the following day, said Cain.

"That's the intent: Nobody has to spend any additional time hanging out here. As long as we stay caught up, everybody's happy," said Cain.

Wyche and Feldmann held in depth discussions with Cain and Maj. Damiko K. Moore of the 541st on the nuts and bolts of the operation, honing in on bumps and bottlenecks and how best to surmount them in future operations.

"You guys have to take that institutional knowledge and help us apply it to Afghanistan," said Wyche.

The final convoy coming out of Iraq is scheduled to arrive at Camp Virginia Dec. 18, and those Soldiers will wing their way home the next day.

"Only two more weeks from now, we can all take a deep breath," said Cain.

Still, even then, major operations will continue as the team at Camp Virginia works on the materiel the departing units have left behind.

"The last convoy arriving out of Iraq is definitely a monumental milestone for our logistical community; however, the 541st CSSB's primary mission is property accountability, so when the last convoy is processed, we will still have an enormous amount of work to do in order to ensure all the property is properly accounted for and processed back into the Army stocks in order to support other operations," said Moore.

"In the RPAT (Redistribution Property Assistance Team) process we relieve units of accountability of Retail-Theater Provided Equipment (TPE)," she said.

The inventory includes a mindboggling array of equipment that includes gunners protection kits, DAGR, Convoy Protection Device RHINO, communication equipment, warrior aid and litter kits, driver vision enhancement (DVE) sets, personal locator beacons, vehicles of various types, material handling equipment, and a range of automated data processing equipment such as computers, printers, scanners and audio/video equipment.

Moore said that mastering the multiple skills sets required to receive, account for and route such an enormous variety of equipment were learned in large part on the ground as the operation unfolded.

"There is a wide variety of vehicles being processed through the RPAT/MRPAT yards. Our learning curve was extremely steep for the OICs and NCOICs," Moore said.

"They initially relied on their experience and logistical knowledge base as a starting point to support the RPAT mission. Additionally, they were able to leverage the Department of the Army civilians and contractors to learn the intricacies of an RPAT/M-RPAT yard as the mission matured over time," she said.

In the course of running the RPAT/M-RPAT, the 541st has become a resource for the "institutional knowledge" that Wyche knows will prove invaluable in future missions, specifically in Afghanistan.

"The 541st CSSB will be holding a Logistics symposium to capture and share lessons learned for future missions," said Moore.

"My recommendation would be to identify personnel to become the subject matter experts (SMEs) on different vehicles and associated equipment. One that comes to mind is the MRAP School at Red River Army Depot. These personnel could become the SMEs and use the "train-the-trainer" philosophy to train personnel on the RPAT/MRPAT team."

Page last updated Mon December 26th, 2011 at 00:00