FORWARD OPERATING BASE APACHE, AFGHANISTAN – Eight representatives of the Army Materiel Command held a briefing to discuss retrograde and reset operations in Zabul province, Feb. 8, at Forward Operating Base Apache, Afghanistan.
“We have retrograded more in the last six months than during the whole time we have been in theater,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Douglas Windell, officer-in-charge, Mobile Retrograde Property Accountability Team, 401st Army Field Support Battalion. Retrograde operations, the term for the removal of equipment, are continuing to grow he added.
Army Materiel Command is the governing body for all logistics in the Army. It oversees purchasing, selling, outfitting, decommissioning, shipping and receiving virtually all equipment within the U.S. Army’s arsenal. The men and women who work for the AMC are known as logisticians.
The role of the Army logistician has made a complete reversal in the past year, shifting from supplying the war fighter to retrograding all excess equipment within the Afghanistan theater of operations.
Despite full support and the assets, the United States government is dedicated to withdrawing equipment and troops from Afghanistan, there are no shortage of skeptics. Skeptics of the logistics, the timeline and of the withdrawal in general are constantly emerging.
A large reason for skepticism is the sheer amount of equipment to recover.
The eight logisticians attending the meeting, however, all agree that those concerns were not well-rooted.
U.S. Army Maj. Jeff E. Gornowicz, Brigade Logistic Support Team, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, defended the deadline of retrograde by saying “it’s going to happen and probably with an accelerated timeline.”
They will meet the deadline, he said, the only question left is how.
There are many avenues of extraction because prospects are narrowing due to many factors; air transportation is most commonly used as of now.
U.S. Army Maj. James E. Bluman, systems acquisitions officer of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade, assured members of the briefing that currently the math adds up. There is a vast amount of equipment to retrieve and only so much time in which to retrieve it, but the AMC is meeting those goals.
The recent withdrawal from Iraq left the AMC better equipped for current and future retrograding operations.
Gornowicz said that even though the situation in Iraq was different than the situation in Afghanistan, lessons learned during retrograde operations in Iraq can and have been implemented in Afghanistan.