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News | July 8, 2022

Mission Complete: Iraq and Afghanistan

By Jason Shamberger DLA Disposition Services

Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services provided support to our nation’s warfighters throughout the Central region for nearly 20 years, assisting customers with items such as food, fuel, repair parts and construction material throughout multiple locations.

2021 marked the end of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan – just as the primary military mission in Iraq ended a decade prior.

Reutilization and demilitarization services in both Iraq and Afghanistan were in high demand throughout. DLA operated four permanent disposal sites across Iraq – totaling over 150 acres – along with five other remote locations among the supporting facilities run by DLA Disposition Services while at one time Afghanistan boasted 10 such sites.

“I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being a part of this organization that conducts retrograde operations out of a contingency zone,” said DLA Disposition Services Central Region Director Army Lt. Col. Juan Talamantes. “And [DLA personnel] have really been focusing their efforts on removing material handling equipment and hazardous wastes – and hazardous waste has its own particular level of challenges.”

The men and women of DLA Disposition Services Central region have grown used to the special challenges that come with supporting warfighters operating in the region.

“Primarily, here in [Central], what we see most is in the area of hazardous waste,” said Lead Environmental Protection Specialist Roosevelt Terrell. “Items may potentially be hazardous property, such as used rags for maintenance operations, and a lot of contaminated liquids that could be ignitable. The safety aspect of hazardous property getting into the wrong hands could be significant to the site personnel, buildings, and equipment.”

Hazardous waste was just one of many services provided over the years as demilitarization and disposal of other materials proved vital to the safety of personnel in the region.

Through proper scrap removal, vehicles and weapons underwent a demilitarization process to make them unusable. For example, without the proper disposal of commodities, adversaries could potentially repurpose timers from appliances into improvised explosive devices.

Bases throughout the region quickly generated large amounts of unserviceable property and the need to prevent that property from building up and occupying valuable space became a significant mission requirement. For instance, during fiscal 2010, DLA personnel at Camp Leatherneck removed more than 1,600 tons of scrap material.

To better handle the amount of material in Afghanistan, disposal yards opened at Bagram Airfield, Kandahar Airfield, Camp John Pratt and Camp Leatherneck. By placing these yards near DLA Distribution sites, customers minimized travel on dangerous roads to multiple locations to take advantage of DLA services.

The agency’s scrap removal in Afghanistan reached an estimated 1.4 billion lbs. between 2006 and the end of military operations there.

Scrap was often processed from remote locations where disposal teams effectively conducted mobile missions throughout the country in support of demilitarization and force protection requirements.

“A mobile mission is when the organization receives a requirement and it’s not at an established location or collection point, so that team will actually go there with assorted equipment and come in with the capability to do disposition,” said Talamantes. “That is really what gives the organization the ability to reach out and perform removal of either equipment or hazardous waste.”

The dedicated men and women of DLA Disposition Services accounted for over half of all agency civilian and military deployments during military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With forces no longer in Iraq and the drawdown of Afghanistan complete, regional responsibilities have shifted to the other full-service property disposal sites across the Middle East.

Currently, DLA Disposition Services’ Kuwait and Qatar facilities can perform the entire demilitarization process on site. And for however long our nation’s warfighters need support, DLA will continue providing quality and proactive global reverse logistics solutions regardless of the location.