Friday, June 5, 2009

British Challenger main battle tanks return home from Iraq

After six years of service in Iraq, seven 72-tonne Challenger Two main battle tanks started their three-week sea voyage back to the UK this week.

The Challenger tanks, 51 armoured vehicles and 162 containers full of other British military equipment that has been used in Iraq left Kuwait's Shuaiba Port onboard the container cargo ship MV Hurst Point on Wednesday 3 June 2009.

Since the end of UK combat operations in Iraq, a specialist logistics headquarters, the Joint Force Logistic Component or JFLogC, has been in Kuwait and Iraq co-ordinating the massive effort to inspect, pack and return six-years-worth of military hardware to the UK.

The number of military shipping containers that need to be shipped home is so great in fact that if every one sent out of Iraq was stacked in a Jenga tower it would rise over two-and-a-half miles (4km) above the desert.

Good order and value for money are the watchwords for the JFLogC which has instigated a number of innovations to make sure equipment from simple stationery to the 72-tonne tanks leaving this week can be reused as quickly as possible on return to the UK.

JFLogC's Commander in Iraq, Brigadier Paul Stearns Royal Marines, said: "Withdrawing equipment after operations is not something we've always given our fullest attention to. Today's military equipment is at a premium, it is high spec, high quality and high value. It's vital we get it to its next home fully refurbished or put on the shelf ready for use again as quickly as possible. The taxpayer has invested a lot of money in our equipment and my team are acutely aware of this. It is my job to protect that investment."

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