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Camp Victory

In the run-up to the war with Iraq in 2003, Camp Victory in Kuwait housed the 159th Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Campbell, KY. Camp Victory was one of six base camps for American soldiers arriving in Kuwait for a possible war with Iraq. Camp Victory was the best organized of all the camps. They had the best food in their dining facility of any of the camps. There was a Hardee's, Baskin-Robbins, Pizza Hut at their camp. They are portable vendors like you would see at the fairgrounds. Camp Victory had gravel roads (no ditches) with square blocks like a normal town. It had its sleeping tents laid out in an organized manner, unlike the other camps.

Camp Victory is located in northern Kuwait. The camp operation can redeploy about 10,000 soldiers every two weeks, which is also the amount of time the process generally takes. This camp had been used before to redeploy soldiers when it redeployed elements of the 3rd Infantry Division in June-July 2003. Although the camp shares the same name with the Camp Victory in Iraq and the two have been confused in the past, they are separate camps.

After laying down roads, building wash racks, and putting up instruction signs-among other things - in January 2004 the Army began redeploying units back to home station through this camp again. Operations began Jan. 8, and hit full tempo by the end of January 2004. The 31st Rear Operations Center, a National Guard unit from Jackson, Miss., set up the redeployment operation. The 31st ROC turned over operations soon to the incoming unit, the 356th Supply and Services, a Reserve unit from Laurel, Miss. Prior to a redeploying unit's arrival, an officer with the unit acting as a liaison would have already planned his unit's arrival with the camp mayor's cell. This officer would meet his unit upon arrival and walk it through, having become familiar with the procedures and where everything is located.

Units first go to the ammunition holding area and turn in their supplies. Next stop is the "Four Corners" area where different classes of supplies are downloaded. Then, units drop off soldiers' personal effects at billeting. Then the process of cleaning unit and personal equipment begins, which can stretch to several days. In addition, soldiers are shuttled through a series of briefings meant to ease the process of getting them home administratively and mentally readjusted. Briefings are given by the legal, chaplaincy, medical, and financial sections.

Some of the 209th Personnel Service Detachment soldiers were stationed here, assigned to help the 232nd PSD soldiers from Wisconsin. Regular personnel work is conducted here, but the main duty of the soldiers is to perform unit validations. These tasks ensure that military units returning home are fully prepared through medical, finance, chaplain, and legal briefings. This is important work, as it helps soldiers get back to their homes.

While folks at Camp Victory, Kuwait's primary redeployment camp, deal with many of the same billeting and supply issues that affect the other camps, their job is made somewhat easier by the fact that most of the troops passing through the camp are on their way home and in high spirits. Living conditions are harsh. When sandstorm season began in 2004 its first victim was the tent over our Internet caf, so communicating with loved ones back home was on hold.

Veterans of the war in Iraq were envious of soldiers who did and do their duty in Kuwait. There was no animosity, though, as they know duty locations are decided echelons above our control. Some are lucky to stay in safety and comfortable living. Others are not so fortunate, as duty called to send most of us to Iraq. A few days after arriving at Arifjan in April 2004, troops convoyed to another redeployment camp in Kuwait, Camp Victory. Here, they prepare ther unit to return home. They were overcrowded and living in tents. There are 70 soldiers in one tent, which was built to accommodate 65. It's not an issue - they were headed home.

In December 2004 Task Force Breakout, headquartered at Camp Victory, Kuwait continued to receive, process, and load equipment for Task Force Danger's redeployment to Germany and the United States. To date, Task Force Breakout had received and processed more than 1,229 pieces of equipment to include tracked vehicles, wheeled vehicles, and containers. The first vessel, the Cape Decision, was loaded and departed for the port of Antwerp, Belgium.

More than 10,000 Humvees had been equipped with Level-2 armor by February 2005. In addition, more than 2,000 medium and heavy trucks had received Level-2 upgrades. Vehicles equipped with Level-3 armor, ad hoc kits designed, fabricated and installed in theater, are receiving Level-2 upgrades on a daily basis in Iraq. All of this progress had taken place in less than two years, a fact made even more impressive by the reality that research, development and fielding processes for defense projects typically take about five years.

Almost 1,000 contractors were at work hardening vehicles in Southwest Asia. For them, however, it's not a matter of simply putting in a day's work. The workers were spread across 11 sites, three in Kuwait and eight in Iraq, which were sometimes subject to security threats, inclement weather and limited resources. At a Level-2 facility near Camp Victory, Kuwait, that specialized in medium and heavy trucks, mechanics raced around Heavy Equipment Transporters, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks and other vehicles, augmenting them with tan-colored ballistic-steel plates, bulletproof glass and air-conditioning units. Almost 300 people from countriessuch as the United States, India, Germany and England work at the location, rotating in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

By March 2005 a unit from New York City had the mission of assisting units returning from wartime service when they need it most - as they begin the redeployment and theater clearing processes here. The 146th Quartermaster Company, an Army Reserve unit from Fort Totten (Queens), N.Y., performed several vital functions which ultimately speed up the redeployment process for units returning home to locations around the world. Once their tours are over and replacing units have been named, returning units receive camp assignments to various locations in Kuwait and begin planning to move the equipment they are taking home with them to the camps either by convoy or contract carriers. When they arrive, units bring everything with them, except the vehicles and equipment designated as stay behind equipment (SBE). The SBE is left for the replacing unit's use and helps them by not having to bring all of their equipment over, only what is necessary to complete the mission.



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