War on Terrorism

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

First fixed-wing redeployment moves 8,000 Soldiers

By Spc. Michael Camacho
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

(2/2/10) - More than 3,000 Soldiers participated in the first fixed-wing redeployment operation out of here Jan. 27. Traditionally, Soldiers would be transported via helicopter to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, or Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad before they departed to Ali Al Salim Air Base in Kuwait, said Staff Sgt. Rufus Brumfield, senior enlisted adviser with the 384th Movement Control Team from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

"We are able to move numerous [passengers] straight from here, and they don't have to stop at another installation like BIAP," said Brumfield. "They can fly from [Camp Taji] straight to Ali Al Salim and then to the states. We can cut out a lot of travel time and moving back and forth."

This major redeployment involved the transportation of more than 3,000 Soldiers in roughly two weeks, said Capt. William Bailey, commander of the 384th MCT.

"Soldiers get to Kuwait faster by offering a fixed-wing solution out of Taji, as opposed to having to connect somewhere else," said Bailey.

Roughly 200 to 300 Soldiers were moved each night, he said.

The Soldiers are moved in a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III or a Lockheed C-130 Hercules out of Camp Taji, said Bailey. Their gear is palletized and loaded onto the plane.

The operation had been in the initial planning stages since August, said Maj. Richard Michaels, division transportation officer with the 1st Cavalry Division.

The 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and the North Carolina Army National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team redeployed at the same time, said Michaels.

With two heavy brigade combat teams being redeployed at once, BIAP would have had more than 800 Soldiers a day bound to Ali Al Salim, which would have caused heavy congestion in the terminal and complicated the redeployment process.

To mitigate travel flow congestion, they decided to use the flight line at Camp Taji to conduct a mass redeployment of the 1st Cavalry Division, he said.

The 30th HBCT would leave the Baghdad area through BIAP. "Redeploying the 30th and 1st Cavalry was 8,000 Soldiers leaving Iraq at the same time," Michaels said.

The operation out of Camp Taji reduced the units' overall travel time by four days, said Michaels. With two to three flights each night, the operation took roughly 16 days, said Michaels.

"This allowed us to keep the Soldiers in the battle space doing [transition training] with the incoming unit, for two days longer," said Michaels. "This gained them a little more efficiency with their [relief in place] and their efficiency of getting out of Iraq."

Several units assisted in the process, Michaels said. The MCT, the Air Force logistics teams on the flight line and the senior airfield authority combined with expertise from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, made for quick and efficient operation execution, said Michaels.

"The ease and smoothness of this operation is about 10 times better than any brigade redeployment or deployment we've experienced out of BIAP," said Michaels. "Having a whole C-17 dedicated to a redeployment has been huge to the mission's success."

The operation was a major success due to cooperation with the different military branches and groups that played a role, said Michaels. The success at Camp Taji was a testament to what can be accomplished when the branches come together in the aid and support of one another, he said.

"Being able to leverage all the joint capabilities that reside within this theater to redeploy Soldiers and get them out on time is certainly what we have to work for even as the drawdown approaches," said Michaels.

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