For the past six months, the United States military has been stockpiling huge amounts of its equipment and gear at a depot location in Kuwait.
According to a report by U.S. News & World Report, this stockpiling is a preparatory measure – it is expected that the equipment will eventually be shipped across the border into Iraq to supply an Allied joint offensive against the Islamic state organization.
So far, there are over 3000 vehicles at the location, the majority of them mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles (MRAP’s) that were used effectively during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to combat the use of improvised explosive devices.
The original disposal plan for the $7 billion worth of vehicles, equipment, and gear that is leaving Afghanistan was to destroy, sell, or simply give away most of it in Afghanistan to aid the war effort there. To date, almost a third of a billion tons of cargo shipments have been moved this year. An additional 1.1 billion pounds of equipment has been turned into scrap material.
That original plan changed, however, as the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, began to gain prominence and support. It was decided that some equipment was retained for possible use in Iraq.
Air Force Major General Rowanyne “Wayne” Schatz, the Director of Operations and Plans for US Transportation Command, was quoted as saying, “From June to December we worked a lot on moving items into Kuwait. The Army is holding the gear there, and it has room to hold, as the mission fleshes out.”
According to some sources, the United States military is tentatively planning to launch a huge offensive in the spring to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces regain some regions that were previously lost.
Lieutenant General James Terry, Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, was quoted in a news conference as saying, “I don’t want to disclose any timelines”. Right now, the task force focuses on rebuilding, supporting, and training the Iraqi military and National Guard forces, in order to better prepare them to actually engage the extremist army.
In addition to equipment, US forces have begun to trickle back into the area. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered 1000 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division to Baghdad to work with other advisors and trainers. So far, there are approximately 1700 US troops already in Iraq, with a little more than 1000 still expected to deploy.