Sorting the Treasure from the Trash

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Hundreds of containers full of equipment are stacked in the yards of Forward Operating Base Shank, the logistical hub for American operations in Logar Province.

LOGAR PROVINCE — The road from Forward Operating Base Altimur runs mostly downhill during the 20 minutes or so it takes to drive to Forward Operating Base Shank, across a desert valley floor. Every couple of days — sometimes every day when stuff can be loaded fast enough — the troops of Bull Battery, 173rd Airborne Brigade, make the short trip to Shank, hauling away most of the remnants of the American presence up at Altimur.

“Descoping” the base is the first element, and one of the most important, in the process of retrograding America’s matériel presence in Afghanistan. When it comes to ending the longest war in U.S. history, it’s still fairly early in the process, and the key guidance for commanders in the 173rd is to keep the momentum going. “If you can keep those trucks turning,” says Colonel Andrew Rohling, the 173rd’s commander, “that’s the velocity we’re trying to get to.” The paratroopers of the 173rd are hoping that the trips downhill from Altimur to Shank are the beginning of momentum that will carry them home.

Full dispatch here.