U.S. withdrawal from Iraq: Eight years worth of stuff

Thu Nov 24, 2011 3:51pm EST
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By Jim Loney

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At the peak of the United States's war in Iraq, the U.S. military had more than 170,000 troops, 500 bases replete with tents and toilets, kitchens and motor pools, and an airline that flew hundreds of times a day across the country.

Moving day has lasted more than a year.

The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq after nearly nine years of war is believed to be one of the largest removal jobs in history. At the start of the year logistics experts calculated there were nearly 3 million pieces of equipment to be moved, from airplanes, helicopters and tanks to laptops and lights.

"It is the largest move of military equipment we have done since World War Two," said Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Brooks, a U.S. military historian.

Soldiers, trucks and weaponry are streaming out of Iraq every day. From that peak of 170,000 troops, about 18,000 remain this week, with hundreds leaving daily. Virtually all will be gone before Christmas.

Since September 2010, around 2 million pieces of equipment have been redeployed, U.S. officials say, some back to the United States, others to Afghanistan or other locations.

By September 1, the clutter had been reduced to about 20,000 truckloads. This week, about 9,000 truckloads remained.

"It's not as glamorous as it was when you're out on patrol in a village, helping some young Iraqi, or building a school or capturing a terrorist. But it's historic," said Brigadier General Bradley Becker of the move out.   Continued...

<p>A U.S. soldier from the 1st Battalion,116th Infantry Regiment, carries his bag as he prepares to pull out from Iraq to Kuwait, at Tallil Air Base near Nassiriya, 300 km (185 miles) southeast of Baghdad, August 15, 2010. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani</p>