Drawdown Details

By John Liang / October 6, 2010 at 4:01 PM

A new Defense Department inspector general report finds that DOD has not managed the drawdown of equipment from Iraq very well.

"As of May 2009, DOD estimated that the drawdown from Iraq would include the withdrawal of approximately 3.4 million pieces of equipment," the cover letter attached to the Sept. 30 report states. "The Theater Retrograde at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, is responsible for receiving and processing containers of equipment and ensuring the equipment's proper disposition."

As for the IG's specific findings:

DOD officials did not effectively manage Theater Retrograde operations. Specifically, Army and Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) officials did not ensure that contractor personnel complied with contract requirements and applicable regulations when processing materiel at the Theater Retrograde. Army and DCMA officials also did not ensure the contractor had sufficient staffing at the Theater Redistribution Center to meet container processing requirements.

This occurred because Army officials did not develop and implement effective policies and procedures for processing materiel at the Theater Retrograde. In addition, Army and DCMA officials did not resolve all deficiencies identified during performance reviews and did not perform administrative functions in accordance with their appointment letters and the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

As a result, DOD remains at an increased risk that a foreign country or adversary could gain a military or economic advantage over the United States, which could impact national security. In addition, officials will continue to be exposed to increased safety risks and serviceable materiel may not be reused to its maximum potential. DOD may also be receiving a reduced value for the services performed, paying undue award fees, and wasting resources by purchasing the same materiel in the unprocessed containers for use in other overseas contingency operations.

We commend the Army and DCMA for taking immediate action to address issues identified during the audit.

What We Recommend

Among other recommendations, we recommend Army officials develop applicable, auditable, and measurable performance requirements for processing materiel and clearly define the requirements and limitations for officials providing contract administration and oversight. We also recommend Army and DCMA officials determine the staffing required at the Theater Redistribution Center to process the current and increased number of containers.

Inside the Navy reported in August that the Marine Corps has conducted both formal and informal reviews of the withdrawal from Iraq and has gleaned valuable lessons regarding logistics that can be applied to the situation in Afghanistan:

In May and June, officials from Marine headquarters who deal with installations and logistics went through face-to-face discussions about what they could learn from leaving Iraq.

"I would bet 70 percent of the lessons learned [from the Iraq drawdown] have to do with equipment, have to do with logistics," Berger said, "and that plan for Afghanistan is already going on right now, not knowing the timeline, but knowing the steps to take and what we learned out of Iraq."

Berger said one of the key lessons from the end of the U.S. Marine involvement in Iraq was that it would behoove logisticians to determine how much of the equipment on hand is already unnecessary so that it can be sent out of the country early, making the process easier when everything else is shipped home. In Iraq, Berger said, commanders were often too busy to make such an examination, and the Marine Corps gave them no incentive to do so. Now, logisticians in Afghanistan are being directed to start the process, he added.