Leaving Iraq Will Not Be Easy, nor Will It Be Cheap

by James Glaser
April 18, 2007

In the last four years we have shipped nine million tons of Equipment to Iraq. The estimated cost to ship it back home is $800 million, and that would be after we have given the Iraqis about 40% of what we have there now.

Major General Charles W. Fletcher, the director of operations at the US Transportation Command said, "It's mind-boggling, the size of all this."

After the 1991 Iraq War, General Fletcher was commanding a battalion in Saudi Arabia that "cleared out the theater" of all of our equipment. Back then under ideal conditions it still took eight months to get everything back to the States. Back then the war was over, and our troops and equipment were in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Col. Nicholas J. Anderson, of the Army Transportation Corps, who is a professor of logistics at the Army War College says, "You'll need to keep soldiers there to guard the equipment, and more importantly, the ammunition."

We already plan to leave the Iraqis all the scrap metal, building materials, medical supplies, and construction materials. No one is even guessing how much all of that has cost the American tax payer.

General Fletcher says that once the order is handed down to come home, the military would start negotiating shipping deals with commercial companies. One would think those plans and contracts would have been made as the equipment was shipped over. Now when we do decide to ship everything back, we will be in a hurry-up mode, and everything will cost us much more.

I would have thought that the Pentagon had this return trip all figured out by now, but then when you think how poorly they have planned everything about this war, this continued lack of planning seems about right.

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