KABUL, Afghanistan — The Todd Maritime Services International, an overflow lot and storage area used by both Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces in Kabul has housed tons and tons of coalition scrap-materials, which piled up over the years, taking up lots of useful space in the yard. It was time for a cleanup and to turn trash into treasures.
Since the site is shutting down in the near future, instead of moving the material from one location to another, soldiers came up with a plan to turn it all in to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office, said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Matthew P. Beuchert, a logistics officer for Regional Support Command-Capital.
When exploring the possibilities of clearing away salvageable materials in the yard and recouping funds for the American tax payer, a lot of planning was involved, said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Branton M. Joaquin, supply and services branch chief in Deputy Command of Support Operations under NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.
“From the initial planning phase to the last truck, the process took three months. The salvage portion of the heavy lifting was two months of 12-hour days, with only one day off per week,” said Joaquin. The mission had multiple participants, including local Afghan contractors, members of the capital support command and the reutilization and marketing office.
This type of mission was not new to the Defense Logistics Agency’s Disposition Services, said U.S. Navy Lt. Michael J. Nolan, the assistant officer in charge of agency’s Disposition Services, Afghanistan and the officer in charge of the Disposition Services Detachment in Bagram.
“(Defense Logistics Agency) Disposition Services oversees the responsible disposal of U.S. equipment no longer needed in the battle space. Items with offensive and defensive capabilities are sent to one of our (demilitarization) centers for processing, but other unserviceable items and scrap metal are sold to local contractors with the proceeds returning to the U.S. Treasury. Another collateral benefit of our scrap sales program is the positive impact it has on the Afghan economy, whereby entrepreneurial local companies can build thriving businesses from the purchase and re-sale of US scrap metal,” explained Nolan.
The life cycle of scrap removal starts with site assessment. If no demilitarization is required, the items are sorted into serviceable and unserviceable piles. Serviceable equipment is either retained or goes to a retro sort yard, where it can be placed back into the supply system. With some exceptions, remaining unserviceable material is sold to scrap contractors, in this particular case to Afghan companies, explained Nolan.
The logistics challenges in this particular operation at Todd Maritime were making sure salvaged equipment belonged to coalition forces, organizing transportation and billeting for the Defense Logistic Agency’s Disposition Services crew, organizing transportation for the scrap metal and protecting the truck drivers who participated in the mission, Joaquin added.
It was difficult to find Afghan laborers to work on the mission during Ramadan, added Beuchert.
“Once the planning was laid out, the process worked like a Swiss watch,” Joaquin said.
The materials recycled at the Todd Maritime site included unserviceable heavy equipment like hoists, backhoes and forklifts; unserviceable vehicle parts; furniture; warehouse racking; building materials and kitchen supplies, said Nolan.
The scrap harvest also collected and sold 5,500 pairs of boots not wanted by the Afghan security forces partners and 5,000 rolls of building insulation, said Beuchert.
When it was all said and done, over 1 million pounds of scrap was salvaged at Todd Maritime, said Joaquin.
“Our main goal is the responsible disposal of military equipment and the proper handling of items that have military capability so they don’t fall into wrong hands,” said Nolan. He added that it is also nice to be able to recoup taxpayer’s money.
One of the intents of this particular mission was to show our Afghan partners that they can perform similar operations on their own, said Beuchert.
“This style mission can be accomplished throughout Afghanistan in every region, (it) provides money back to the government, clears storage space, and can create local jobs depending on how the Afghans contract the support. Very simple, yet has high benefits and rewards,” said Beuchert.