By Spc. Matthew A. Wright
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – As the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq approaches, the 640th Aviation Support Battalion is collecting and itemizing unused or misplaced military equipment that has accumulated over the eight years the Army has been at Camp Taji. The effort is called Operation Clean Sweep.
The equipment found on the post that is serviceable includes automotive parts, such as tires, Gator utility vehicle parts and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle parts, to other items the military can make use of, said Capt. Joseph Adams, a planning officer with the 640th.
The idea behind Operation Clean Sweep is to salvage the equipment and save the taxpayers money.
The 640th is assisting a team from the 549th Quartermaster Company by gathering all the equipment and property on Camp Taji that is not on unit property books and putting it back on those books or sending it back to the United States.
What is the amount saved from this effort?
“We saved up to $12 million,” Adams, a Carson, Calif. native, said.
Capt. Pedro Alvarez, officer in charge of the unit’s logistics section, and a native of Lynnwood, Calif., explained that another big part of Operation Clean Sweep is to make the U.S. military’s footprint on Camp Taji smaller by getting rid of all equipment that is not being used.
Adams pointed out that it is like an amnesty period for the units to turn in all new and used property to be either reused or recycled.
The 640th and the 549th teams came up with a plan to have all the units on base bring in all unused and broken equipment to a yard on the post to organize and classify the items as serviceable or non-serviceable items.
“What I did with the plan was coordinate and organize our people from the 640th which have provided a couple of Soldiers from each company to assist with classifying the stuff,” Adams said.
“Some of the items are put back into the system,” he said. “It is reissued to the units that can make some use out of it.”
The reissued equipment does not go to just the units here on Camp Taji.
“It is going to either here in Iraq, Afghanistan or other locations where we have military forces,” Adams said.
The unserviceable or broken equipment that is collected is disposed of by the team.
“It goes to either to the Defense Reutilization and Management Office or it goes through recycling,” Adams said. “There they refurbish or fix it to be used later on.”
He added that the recyclables collected included copper wire and scrap metal, much of which can be sent back to the United States and recycled.
The 640th ASB is a California Army National Guard unit of from Los Alamitos, Calif. Nearly 500 Soldiers from the battalion are in theater providing aviation support to the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is on a yearlong deployment in Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.