ON-BOARD A C-17 (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 25th Infantry Division headquarters out of Schofield had the monumental task of making sure the draw down in Iraq ended responsibly and on-time. That was no easy feat. Soldiers had to inventory each and every piece of equipment and make sure tens of thousands of troops were packed and ready to leave.
It was spring cleaning on a massive scale. Over the past year, Headquarters, 25th ID had to shut down more than three dozen bases across Iraq.
"I did not think we were going to withdraw this year," says Capt. Matt Hills. "I thought there would be an enduring force, but once the decision was made to leave, we had a very short timeline to do it, and we pulled it off."
The task included accounting for more than 600 thousand pieces of equipment, big and small, and either sending them home or transferring them to the Iraqis. "It was unprecedented," says SFC. James Swenson. "So, I guess when we sit down, after the dust has settled, we'll be able to gauge how huge it really was."
Senior leadership told us they left about $800,000,000 worth of equipment behind. To ship it back to the U.S. - much of it old and used - would have cost about $650,000,000.
During surge of 2007, U.S. troop numbers peaked at 176,000. America had more than 500 bases and millions of pieces of equipment across Iraq. As the draw down progressed over the past 18 months, those numbers dropped dramatically, but imagine having to go through each and every item that you've acquired over almost nine years. It's staggering to think about. Staff Sergeant Brock Duffel was on the team that did a final walk-through at Camp Adder in southern Iraq.
"Knowing that you're the last American that's going to be that building, you just kind of stop and look around and, I used the word surreal earlier, but it really is," explains Duffel.
Headquarters 25th ID was also tasked with planning the last troop movement out of Iraq. They watched on TV and cheered - as the last U.S. soldiers crossed the border into Kuwait. Their job was now done.