As American and NATO forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the Pentagon is looking at ways to trim the size of its materiel commitment.
The U.S. Marine Corps and Army recently signed $31 million worth of logistics contracts with Honeywell to start refitting and shipping equipment back to the United States from several large bases in Afghanistan.
The Corps’ Prepositioning & Marine Corps Logistics Services (P&MCLS) effort entered into $24 million worth of agreements with the company to provide maritime prepositioning and logistics services to Camp Dwyer and Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.
A Honeywell spokesman described the deal as involving “offloading various types of equipment from the Marines’ prepositioning ships, repairing those vehicles, repackaging and refreshing supplies such as medical, food, ammunition, spare parts, etc., and reloading that equipment on the ship for it to return to its prepositioned location in-theater.”
The Army’s 401st Integrated Logistics Support Services group also has contracted with Honeywell for a $7 million increase to an existing contract to supply labor and supervise Theater Provided Equipment Planner personnel, “as well as asset visibility services to the U.S. Forces Afghanistan J4 Supply and Services, Redistribution, Retrograde, Redeployment, Reset and Disposition organization,” according to a company statement.
The work on both contracts began April 1 and will run through September.
While not yet a major retrograde or refit action, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is declining from its current level of 90,000 troops to 68,000 by October. The drawdown will bring troop levels back to what they were prior to the 2010 surge of 23,000 troops ordered by President Barack Obama.
The overall plan for the transition of security to Afghan forces is still being developed and is expected to be unveiled in May at the NATO summit in Chicago. But virtually all 130,000 U.S and NATO combat troops are expected to be out of the country by the end of 2014. A force of trainers, advisers and special forces likely will remain.
Honeywell’s logistics team “has been an integral part of the P&MCLS program for 25 years,” Carey Smith, president of Honeywell Technical Solutions, said in a statement. He added that the company is providing the Army with a “detailed analysis of equipment data, whether by geographic location or operational condition.”
The massive drawdown is hardly unprecedented. In Iraq, U.S. forces moved 3 million pieces of equipment out of the country between September 2010 and last December, and handed over another 4 million pieces of equipment to the Iraqis.
As the drawdown begins in earnest, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi are in Washington this week for meetings with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other defense officials.
Earlier in the week, U.S. and Afghan officials signed an agreement that puts Afghans in charge of the controversial night raids conducted by U.S. and Afghan special forces, although it contains provisions that will allow U.S. forces to conduct raids while obtaining warrants from Afghan officials retroactively, according to Pentagon spokesmen.