KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Oct. 12, 2014) -- How do you pack up a small city-sized military encampment and move it across the world? U.S. and coalition personnel across Regional Command-South have been doing just that for some time now, led most recently with no small effort and careful planning on the part of a team of 1st Cavalry Division personnel.
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, is experiencing this movement and is being reduced to a smaller framework to support the Resolute Support Mission in Regional Command-South as Operation Enduring Freedom comes to an end.
In order to accomplish this size of force reduction RSM requires, a common operating picture or clear plan has to be shown to units on KAF to reference. This helps them downgrade their equipment in the right way, and it also gives a clear step-by-step timeline with deadlines.
"The Army prides itself in a shared understanding of what an organization needs to do to complete their mission," said Lt. Col. Brad Swift, the senior logistics officer for the 1st Cavalry Division and RC-South, who reports to RC-South's Commanding General Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, on unit downgrading efforts and progress to facilitate his decisions.
Swift, a native of Waynesville, Missouri, described the downgrading process as the redeployment, retrograde and material reduction, or R2MR, of KAF. It is accomplished by the commanding general laying out what the RSM framework should look like. The units are then held accountable for their own strategy to downsize their particular force.
"As long as you operate within the limits of the commanding general's intent, then you are encouraged to have as much initiative as you can," Swift said.
"Once they've (the units) got their plans established and they are moving forward with them, we look at those plans for reducing their equipment and provide direction through container inspections which they've packed," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Norman May, a native of Emporia, Kansas, who serves as the senior maintenance technician for RC-South, and 1st Cav. Div.
May explained that he has a master timeline layout of all of the units on KAF, which contains all of the timelines and plans they have established to get them RSM qualified.
"These unit timelines are driven by their end of mission dates, and by whether or not they're being replaced," Swift said. "You can't expect what you don't inspect, so we have a very deliberate, well rehearsed and established backwards planning operational timeline that shows when and what should be turned in."
The inspections also serve as a forcing function to hold units accountable to inventory all their equipment to see if there are any deficiencies and to get a clear picture of what they need to turn in, May said.
A lot of equipment and materials have accumulated over the nearly 13 years of U.S. and coalition forces rotating through RC-South. Units, therefore, need to do one of three things with the accrued items: properly dispose of them, ship them stateside, or leave them in country for incoming units that will need them to support the RS Mission, May explained.
"Military equipment that doesn't make sense to send home due to it being obsolete or too expensive needs to be demilitarized or go through the disposal processes. In the retro sort yard they decide whether it will have a future use or not."
May said the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services determines the worth of the equipment and makes sure that it is categorized for proper disposal, reutilization, or for donation or sale to locals.
Swift emphasized that this operation of downsizing a huge base is a very collaborative effort, and that it wouldn't work without the cooperation of everybody.
"This is not just about one particular star player. We have a lot of good coaches and a lot of good players, and everybody's doing their part," Swift said. "Everybody's trying to get this done on time and doing operations to the last minute."