“This is the largest operation, that we’ve been able to determine, since the buildup for World War II,” Webster said. It involves the removal of 2.8 million pieces of equipment from Iraq, including 88,000 containers and 41,000 vehicles of all types.
Webster did not specify the cost of the operation but acknowledged that it would run into the tens of billions of dollars. He said the Third Army spent roughly $20 billion on repairing equipment and supplying troops during the 2007 surge of U.S. forces into Iraq to contain escalating sectarian violence. Those costs for Army operations in Iraq dropped to $16 billion last year and are projected to dip to $9 billion this year, Webster said.
He said some of those savings “will be pushed over to Afghanistan” and used to fund a buildup of forces there to combat an intensifying insurgency by the radical Islamist Taliban movement.
In a separate briefing Friday, Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for logistics, said the military as a whole has already moved 2.2 million pieces of equipment out of more than 350 forward operating bases in Iraq. But he said 1.2 million additional items need to be removed by August.
…“We’re now flying those in at a rate of about 400 a month, and we plan to move that up to about 1,000 a month” as the buildup intensifies in Afghanistan this spring, Webster said.
He noted that Obama “wanted us to move in there as quickly as possible, and initial estimates were that it was going to take as much as 18 months.” That timetable has been dramatically accelerated, he said, and “we now will be able to move the 5,000-plus vehicles that are needed for the buildup by the end of the summer.”
Contributing to the faster flow of equipment into Afghanistan has been the opening of five supply routes from countries north of the landlocked nation, in addition to two routes through Pakistan. One route in the “northern distribution network,” as the military calls it, is about 5,000 miles long, Webster said.
The northern routes now account for about half the supplies moving into Afghanistan, he said. "
2010-04-03 16:50:05 UTC