By Staff Sgt. Joel F. Gibson
13th Sustainment Command
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Soldiers with the 13th Sustainment Command saved the Army more than $380 million by coordinating the cataloging and redistribution of excess equipment across Iraq since August.
Through Operation Clean Sweep, the 13th Sustainment Command recovered excess equipment that is not in use or needed for operations in Iraq.
The equipment was returned to the supply system for redistribution in theater, in Afghanistan and throughout the Army, said Col. Gus Pagonis, the support operations officer with the 13th Sustainment Command and a Copperas Cove native.
Operation Clean Sweep in Iraq was designed to address the massive buildup of equipment since the Iraq war started in 2003, Pagonis said.
"Imagine if you did not go through your garage or your attic for about seven years, what would be left there?" he said. "Now multiply that by about 150,000 and that's what we have here in Iraq right now."
Chief Warrant Officer-4 Guy Hunter II, the senior logistics adviser for the reset and redistribution branch with the 13th Sustainment Command, said this represents years of backup.
"You have a unit that falls in on another unit's location that they (transferred authority) with, and into a motor pool that already has 25 or 30 containers," Hunter said. "Before Operation Clean Sweep, units throughout Iraq were not doing the normal day-to-day supply operations of command supply discipline because (operational tempo) was so high, so that kind of got left behind."
Combat operations slowed down during this phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, units across Iraq, along with the 13th Sustainment Command, can focus on identifying excess equipment and bringing it back to the supply system for other units to use or send back to the United States, Hunter said.
Pagonis said Operation Clean Sweep is about providing an easy way for units to maintain supply discipline.
To facilitate the redistribution of supplies and equipment, the 13th Sustainment Command coordinates with its subordinate sustainment brigades to send materiel redistribution teams to forward operating bases throughout Iraq, said Lt. Col. Ben Harvey, the reset and redistribution branch chief with the 13th Sustainment Command.
As a drawdown tool, Operation Clean Sweep has been instrumental in making the transition easier for returning units because the teams can go to their locations and assume control of the excess equipment for proper disposal, said Hunter, but the program also has long-lasting potential.
"Operation Clean Sweep is an enduring process that we need to continue to do all the time," Hunter said. "It's not just because we're here in Iraq, we also need to do it in the states. Things accumulate and it's easier to say, if you've got a container, 'Oh, just put it in the container,' when it should actually go back into the supply system so somebody else can use it.
"As long as we continue ordering and purchasing things, we need to continue doing clean sweeps."