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NEWS | June 1, 2010

Louisiana Guard turns in seven years of equipment from Iraq

By Sgt. Kimberly Johnson 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq - Infantry Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard have dual roles here.

Their primary mission is convoy security escorts, in charge of securing theater essential commodities.

However, due to the upcoming responsible drawdown of troops and equipment from Iraq, they have been assigned another mission — retrograding seven years worth of equipment from Iraq.

The 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), has been tasked with collecting and reallocating more than 1,660 pieces of equipment by June, when it relocates to Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

"Our only focus [was] to deploy as convoy security companies," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Bordelon, supply noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the unit. "We've [become] 'turn-in' companies also, because we have to get rid of all the excess gear from seven years."

As units moved in and out of theater during the last seven years, they stockpiled equipment essential for their missions, such as Armored Security Vehicle parts, tank parts, satellite phones, weapons, electrocardiogram machines and generators.

Because the responsible drawdown is being geared up, and many units, whose vehicles have been upgraded, are nearing the end of their mission, there isn't a need for the outdated equipment.

"The whole brigade is nominated to turn in 17,000 pieces of theater provided equipment," said Lt. Col. David Gooch, the unit commander. "We are responsible for the turn-in, because we are at the end of the line for seven years of equipment."

During the last month and a half, the maintenance section from the battalion has turned in more than $1.9 million worth of parts, such as belts, starters and tires for redistribution. These items will be recycled back into the Army supply system, Gooch said.

"I have tank parts," he said. "I haven't seen a tank in Iraq since I've been here. I'm sure there [are] some still around, but certainly not near the number of tanks in 2005."

Once the items have been identified for turn-in, there is a process of many different steps and procedures. Attention to detail is key to the success of this mission, Bordelon said.

"Whenever excess equipment is identified, a request is sent to our brigade and the higher echelons to get it [added to] a theater redistribution asset manager