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NEWS | Aug. 12, 2021

CTEF team clears lot, delivers military vehicles, firearms to Iraqi security forces

By Staff Sgt. Neil McCabe 1st Theater Sustainment Command

Soldiers executing the Counter ISIS, Train and Equip Fund supporting Iraqi security forces, or CTEF, achieved a significant milestone July 6, when the last items left Lot 54 here.

“When we took over the CTEF mission from the 311th ESC team there were more than 600 vehicles in LOT 54,” said Col. Garrett R. Kolo, the CTEF director for 1st Theater Sustainment Command, who deployed here with the Army Reserve’s Indianapolis-based 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

“Brickyard” Soldiers of the 310th ESC staff 1st TSC’s operational command post, which includes CTEF administration, as part of the regular nine-month rotation of ESC’s from the active-duty and reserve components.

Maj. Chad Peare, the CTEF deputy director, said the 310th ESC team took operational control from the 311th ESC after they departed theater.
Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Wright, the CTEF transportation manager, said that he is especially proud of the last pieces leaving the yard.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” said the native of Smyrna, Delaware, who joined the Army Reserve in 1997.

Wright noted there was quite a bit of equipment that had been stored for the CTEF mission, and based on his conversations with some of the civilians that work there, the transfer process has taken several years to complete.

Counter ISIS, Train, Equip Fund supports various Iraqi security forces

The CTEF builds the capacity of Iraqi security forces from the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior and the Iraqi Kurdish Region. The MOD forces include both the conventional Iraqi Army and the Ranger-like Qwat Khash formations. The MOI forces include the Federal Police, the Territorial Interdiction Forces and the Emergency Brigades. The only Kurdish forces authorized to participate in the CTEF program are the Peshmerga Regional Guard Brigades.

In addition to armored security vehicles, CTEF provides the Iraqi security forces with other vehicles, such as ambulances, wreckers, fuel tankers and water trailers. CTEF also provides the ISF with communications equipment and firearms.

Streamlining the process led to emptying Lot 54

Col. Matthew Hirsch, who is the acting CTEF director, said that over the course of many years, materiel destined for ISF became waylaid in the camp’s Lot 54 after it was delivered into theater.

Kolo said a number of factors led to the buildup at Lot 54.

“Much of the backlog was from the halt of traffic due to an increased threat in the area,” he said. “Our predecessors in the 103rd ESC had then had to deal with starting base closures that the 311th ESC finished--they were also dealing with COVID.”

Hirsch, said the 310th team built on the 311th ESC’s ad hoc practice of shipping CTEF equipment directly from the port and made it the standard practice.

By cutting out the delivery to Camp Arifjan for further processing, it cut the flow to Lot 54 and allowed the team to focus on working down the inventory there, he said.

“We recognized that there were some efficiency gaps, and that we could improve the efficiency by only touching it once, as opposed to touching it twice, which greatly improved the velocity of moving things coming from CONUS to getting them up to Iraq,” the colonel said. CONUS is shorthand for the 48 states of the Continental United States.

“When it comes from CONUS and it lands at the port, it is a temporary spot to house things, which serves as a forcing function,” Hirsch said.

The finite space at the port requires the Soldiers to push out the CTEF vehicles and equipment to free up space for the next incoming shipments, he said.

“Putting it in a second spot, the lot that we have here, it opens up for other variables, and by streamlining, by having it only in the one place before it gets moved up to the end user, it reduces those variables and forces to continue on with the velocity of the movement,” he said.

Divestitures at K-Crossing

Kolo said one of the first things his CTEF team did was reestablish communication with the Iraqi security forces to facilitate divesting vehicles and equipment at the Iraqi border.

“Rebooting contact with the Iraqi security forces really happened at the unit level,” he said. “We were fortunate the FLE linguist had not left during the slow down. He retained many of the contacts of ISF vetted officers of designated units and he was very willing to reach out to these to set up divestments.” FLE is short for Forward Logistics Element.

The team worked through delivery challenges by working closely with the contractors to establish consistent pick-up schedules and to understand the country’s customs requirements.

“The CTEF mobility team and 419th Movement Control Battalion worked with the vendor to better understand the customs approval process, so documents were submitted with enough time to obtain government approval to travel,” he said.

The first CTEF divestment that took place here went fairly well. Initially, there was difficulty locating the Iraq vetted officer, but once he arrived, the divestment proceeded as planned; and the event provided a framework for future divestments.

“Many of the Iraqis and Americans were happy to be part of the process,” Kolo said.