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Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh, 366th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGHDAD – 03.22.2010 A group of Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division Site Closure Assistance Team, U.S. Division–Center, provided technical aid to officers at Joint Security Stations Four Corners and Salie, March 9, in preparation for their handing everything over to the Iraqi security forces. S
ince 1st Armored Division arrived in Iraq late December 2009, five locations have been turned over so far, with more to follow.
"Bases are closing all over USD-C's footprint," said Maj. John Dang, a Houston native and the 1st Armored Division officer in charge of supply services.
Known as SCAT, the group is comprised of engineer and logistic specialists who assist in the closure or return of U.S.-controlled sites back to the Iraqis, said Dang.
A major step in turning land and property over to the Iraqis is determining whether the property is excess.
"We can't just give the property to them," said Dang.
Property can be either real or personal. Real property is considered a fixed structure, or real estate; while personal property includes things like air conditioner units, furniture, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation equipment.
Once the existing real and personal property is visually verified and amounts are annotated, the team uses a process called Foreign Excess of Personal Property to determine the actual excess. They visit each site at least two to three times, usually at the beginning, middle and end of the process to ensure no issues are left unresolved.
"It was beneficial to have [the SCAT] walk us through [the process] to clarify some gray areas," said 1st Lt. Mike Schulman, the fire support officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
It was helpful for them to get a better understanding of real property versus personal property as well as taking a streamline approach to enable the actual transfer to run smoothly for their Iraqi counterparts, said Schulman.
Any unresolved issues could actually delay Soldiers' redeployments, keeping them from their family members longer, said Dang.
"Anything that the government deems excess is pretty much going to be the things that will help the Iraqi people survive," said Dang. "It's not Army equipment, radios, computers or military vehicles."
Once personal property is identified as excess by the unit, the unit submits a request for it to be transferred to the Iraqis through the FEPP process, Dang said.
The requested excess list is scrubbed to ensure no other company or U.S. operation needs the items in the USD–C area.
If no USD–C shortages are documented, Dang will recommend the items remain on the Iraqi compound. The items in question will then be offered on a broader scope to any U.S. military and government operation. The entire process takes about 60 days.
"We have to make sure that [the Soldiers] are taken care of first," said Dang.
After it's determined that no other unit in theater is in need of the items, they are then turned over to the Iraqis, said Dang.
If the unit is having transportation problems, Dang said his crew will get assets to assist them in relocating equipment in order to prevent any delays. And when it comes time for the base closure ceremony, Iraq's Receivership Secretariat officially signs all real and personal property that has been approved over to Iraq.
Though the process can be long and tedious, said Schulman, the end result is well worth the effort. "Guys like the SCAT can help us meet requirements to ensure that in the end, we get out of here on time."