News: TF Wings' 'Clean Sweep' nets more than $40 million in supplies
Story by Spc. Michael Alberts
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — As U.S. forces in Iraq begin preparations for a safe and responsible drawdown of forces, tons of equipment must be identified, masses of supplies tracked and accounted for, and thousands of items earmarked for turn-in or redistribution across the fighting force.
Task Force Wings identified and returned more than $40 million of excess equipment as part of the Armywide initiative termed Operation "Clean Sweep." Each of the task force's units participated from their respective locations across United States Division - North.
As United States Force - Iraq prepares for and executes the responsible drawdown and relocation of equipment and personnel, Operation Clean Sweep facilitates that operation by enabling units currently in Iraq identifying and turning in all excess equipment for repair and redistribution through the military supply system.
"The Army has been in Iraq since 2003 and units continue to obtain items and pass them on to the next follow-on unit. They, in turn, buy more and pass on more to each successive unit. So basically, each follow-on unit [inherits] all that 'stuff,' for lack of a better term, that falls within their footprint," said Maj. Scott Wyatt, Supply officer-in-charge, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Wings. "The Army's directive is simple — get all that excess [stuff] out of here."
Wyatt scheduled and coordinated the operation for TF Wings, a unique challenge considering that the task force's personnel and equipment are positioned in 16 different locations throughout northern Iraq.
"The normal procedure for returning excess equipment is somewhat laborious. The Army recognized that and developed the Clean Sweep approach, establishing specialized teams called Mobile Redistribution Teams to facilitate the drawdown," said Wyatt.
The MRT works with the units. Following a simple but effective process, the unit first evaluates their respective location by looking through containers, buildings and bunkers to make an initial determination of what equipment qualifies as excess. That excess is then isolated for further evaluation and classification by the MRT.
According to Wyatt, the MRT determines which excess items are serviceable or unserviceable, and which items have been purchased through the Army supply system or through other means. The MRT then coordinates pick-up and distribution to all appropriate agencies and organizations for repair, redistribution and re-use.
Sgt. Candice Powell, a team leader with MRT from the 631st Maintenance Company, Florida Army National Guard., is in charge of one of three teams of about eight Soldiers. Her team assisted TF Wings at COB Speicher as they validated their excess and coordinated the redistribution of the various classes of supplies and equipment.
"Our mission is extremely valuable," said Powell. "It's a voluntary program at this point and is saving the Army a tremendous amount of money as we move toward responsible drawdown. The process can be frustrating and it requires adaptability on the part of the units we assist. [TF Wings] did a good job working with us to get the mission [accomplished] here at COB Speicher."
First Lieutenant Curtis Gibbs, executive officer, Company E, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, TF Wings, worked closely with Powell's team.
"We did our best to turn in everything we had that was not on an organizational property book or a [theater-provided equipment] hand receipt," said Gibbs. "This was an entirely new concept and it was definitely a success. We turned in fifteen, 40-foot and 29, 20-foot containers filled with various classes of supply, to include hazardous material, scrap wood and metal, vehicle and helicopter parts, medical supplies, furniture and roof shingles, among other things."
Everything was fair game and they took full advantage of the opportunity, 1st Lt. Gibbs added.
According to Chief Warrant Officer Two Edwin Lopez, property book officer for TF Wings, it was no surprise that units like Gibbs' jumped at the chance to return their excess.
Lopez ensured that each unit properly identified and turned in the majority of their excess. He believes Clean Sweep makes turn-in a lot easier on supply sergeants and commanders.
"The operation allowed units to clean up their areas without having to worry about all the red tape required under normal circumstances," said Chief Lopez. "Not only is this saving the Army tremendous amounts of money, but it [saves commanders time bypassing the bureaucratic process of adding excess to their property books and waiting for disposition]. It's a great program that will continue to save the Army millions of dollars if units take advantage of it."