The U.S. Army has already begun to draw down its forces in Iraq, dismantling military bases and shipping equipment back home or to other world hot spots. Managing the logistical side of the withdrawal is a daunting, often politically charged task. Some facilities and equipment will be left for or sold to the Iraqi military —a process that often requires delicate negotiations with local and national officials. Meanwhile, a slow, steady exodus of materiel of all sorts is under way, with cargo moving out in containers, on roll-on/roll-off vessels, and in some cases, over the road to Afghanistan.
At least one of the experts in charge of this gargantuan project is quite familiar with the challenges of moving military supplies. Col. Gust Pagonis may not have been personally involved in managing a large-scale withdrawal before, but he's undoubtedly heard all about it: His father, Lt. Gen. William "Gus" Pagonis, oversaw logistics during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. In an interview last fall, a New York Times reporter asked the younger Pagonis if his father had any advice. "When I told my dad what my assignment was, he just laughed and said good luck," Col. Pagonis told the Times.