Getting out of Iraq is a massive logistical endeavor. As the military closes bases and brings troops home before the Obama Administration's Dec. 31 deadline, the army has been moving millions of pieces of equipment out of the country. Much of this equipment will pass through Fort Virginia in Kuwait before heading to its final destination.
After more than eight years of war, the tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and helicopters will get a good scrub down in Kuwait and go through a customs inspection. Some will be shipped back to U.S. bases. Armored trucks will go to Afghanistan; generators will go to U.S. Marines in Bahrain. Some unwanted support equipment will go to U.S. cities, and the rest will be incinerated in scrap yards.
Photographs by David Degner for Bloomberg Businessweek
Rows and rows of shipping containers, packed with gear, are ready to leave Fort Virginia, in the Kuwait desert.
Members of the 1st Cavalry out of Fort Hood disappear into a shipping container to rearrange their remaining equipment before it is shipped out of Kuwait.
Major General Thomas Richardson stands in the headquarters of his logistical command center, where he coordinates the intake and distribution of equipment from the war in Iraq.
Lines of vehicles with broken parts and flat tires are held back in a depot yard for repair.
Much of the equipment, including large armored vehicles known as MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), is labeled with bar codes.
Radios are sorted, counted, wrapped, and placed in containers for shipment.
Locating Personal Locators
Personal Locator Beacons are considered important to recover from soldiers before being reused.
Used Office Gear
Office equipment, ranging from computers to large screen TVs, are used for conferencing and presentations.
Containers of windshield cleaning fluid, an absolute necessity in the dusty parts of Iraq, are collected in a box at Fort Virginia in Kuwait.
Even the fire extinguishers are collected for use elsewhere.
Leftover concertina wire is stacked in the yard of Fort Virginia in Kuwait
Spare tires that were taken out of Iraq are piled in the yard, the first station for equipment after the military unit turns it in.
Mine Resistant Vehicles
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles built during the war to repel the insurgency's roadside bombs wait in the yard of Fort Virginia. Their top-heavy design isn't well-suited to the rougher roads of Afghanistan.
Members of the 1st Cavalry out of Fort Hood put boxes of unused target practice paper into a shipping container.
Sorting, Counting, and Wrapping
Smaller pieces of electronics, such as radios, are sorted, counted, wrapped, and placed in containers for shipment. The whole process can take 3 to 10 days.
A soldier with the 1st Cavalry returning to Fort Hood sits on a generator after cataloging the electronic equipment from her unit.