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Reset of Military Equipment

ALCL 134


​A set of actions to restore equipment to a desired level of combat capability commensurate with a unit's future mission.

General Information


According to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report 06-604TPreliminary Observations on Equipment Reset Challenges and Issues for the Army and Marine Corps, the magnitude of equipment reset efforts required as a result of operations related to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was enormous. During the peak of Iraq and Afghanistan operations, by some estimates, the Army had deployed more than 40% of its equipment in support of OIF and OEF, and the US Marine Corps (USMC) had about 22% of its total fleet assets engaged in Iraq. The USMC had estimated that approximately 40 percent of all their ground equipment, 50 to 55% of communications equipment, and 20% of aircraft assets were used in support of operations. In April 2005, the DoD reported Army equipment usage rates averaged two to eight times that of peacetime rates. USMC officials characterized their usage rates for ground equipment in OIF/OEF operations as four to nine times that of peacetime rates. This generated a large operational maintenance and replacement requirement that had to be addressed upon return to home stations. Extreme environmental factors such as heat, sand, and dust also took their toll on major equipment items.


Joint Publication (JP) 3-35, Deployment and Redeployment Operations, identifies reset responsibilities of the military departments, which retain specific responsibility for their respective forces, to include relevant prioritization, scheduling and planning and economic decisions on future demand and usage, repair versus replace, etc. An overview of these responsibilities is included below.

  • Army - The Department of the Army (DA) is responsible for the assignment, preparation, and support of Army deployed forces necessary for employment across the range of military operations, including deployment, sustainment, reconstitution, and redeployment. Most Army combat assets cannot self-deploy and must be transported by other DoD assets in support of joint force operations. DA is responsible for making land transportation available in overseas areas for the other Services and for coordinating all planning and requirements for the use of DoD-controlled land transportation equipment and facilities.
  • USMC - For deployment operations, both the USMC component and Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) have force deployment officers, MAGTF planners, and strategic mobility/embarkation officers who work as a team during the planning and execution of force deployment operations. During force deployment execution, force deployment officers ensure proper execution of inter-theater and intra-theater lift and the strategic mobility officers coordinate USMC movement requirements with the supported component commander, Joint Deployment and Distribution Operations Center (JDDOC) and USTRANSCOM. The USMC activates a MAGTF Deployment and Distribution Operations Center (MDDOC) within theater to coordinate and provide transportation services to all land-based elements of the MAGTF. As the USMC primary movement control agency within the theater, the MDDOC is responsible for establishing liaison and communications with and forwarding all transportation shortfalls to the theater JDDOC, or to the component commander.
  • US Navy (USN) - The USN component commanders are responsible for USN theater deployment and logistics support. The majority of USN combat assets self-deploy in support of joint force operations; USN expeditionary forces which do not self-deploy, including the engineering force, security forces, expeditionary logistics, fleet hospital personnel, and equipment, must be time-phased to support the Joint Force Commander (JFC). In large mobilization scenarios, the USN may establish Naval Advanced Logistics Support Sites (NALSS) to serve as the primary shore-based reception and transshipment points for personnel, equipment, and materiel. In lesser mobilization scenarios, the Navy component commander may designate an established naval activity to act in this capacity. In either scenario, the Navy component commander coordinates and monitors personnel deployment activities for units and individuals.
  • US Air Force (USAF) - Some USAF mobility and Special Operations Forces (SOF) have a limited self-deployment capability; however, the USAF and SOF rely on common-user transportation to move support forces and sustainment cargo. Within the Air Force component, the logistics directorate is the principal coordinator of USAF logistics.
  • Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) - DLA is a Combat Support Agency (CSA) and is controlled and directed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)). DLA provides worldwide logistic support to the Services, combatant commands (CCMD), other DoD components, US Government (USG) departments and agencies, foreign governments, and international organizations. DLA manages more than 80% of the items and nearly all the fuel and petroleum products for military usage. During deployment of the joint force, DLA requires common-user transportation to move, stage, and recover its logistic resources in support of joint force operations. Supported CCMD planners are responsible for validating DLA movement requirements entered in the Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data (TPFDD) for scheduling by USTRANSCOM. DLA has the following logistics responsibilities: integrate materiel management and supply support for subsistence; clothing and textiles; Petroleum, Oils, and Lubricants (POL); construction materials; medical materials; repair parts; map distribution; property and hazardous waste disposal.

Army, USMC Reset Concepts

The GAO 06-604T report characterized the Services’ approach to retrograde and reset as flexible responses derived from Desert Storm lessons learned. The Army’s standard level of maintenance is known as 10/20, which essentially requires that all routine maintenance be executed, and all deficiencies be repaired. Equipment at less than the 10/20 standard can still be Full Mission Capable (FMC), which means there are no critical maintenance deficiencies as outlined in the technical manuals and instructions, and no safety deficiencies. Unit commanders have the authority to supersede the technical manuals and declare a system FMC even though it has a Non-Mission Capable (NMC) deficiency. The Marine Corps equivalent term is Mission Capable (MC). The Army’s reset strategy for ground vehicles includes an additional set of maintenance procedures known as Delayed Desert Damage (3D) which are designed to address damage that results from these vehicles operating in a desert environment. These 3D checks are initially performed at the unit level. Equipment that goes to a depot is subjected to more extensive 3D maintenance procedures. Army aviation equipment is subject to Special Technical Inspection and Repair (STIR). STIR also includes other routine maintenance but, like 3D, is designed to address damage caused by operation in a desert environment.

Although the terms may be slightly different, the USMC equipment repair and replacement process and equipment standards parallel the Army process and standards for equipment maintenance. The USMC equivalent to the Army’s reset process is termed “recovery.” USMC equipment returning from combat theaters is evaluated and transported to either a maintenance depot or to a USMC unit’s home station for repair. The USMC's equipment recovery process entails restoring all equipment to its pre-Global War on Terror (GWOT) condition. For equipment in the USMC prepositioning fleet, this means a “like new” condition; for all other equipment, this means restoring to a Mission Capable (MC) status. The USMC also applies procedures similar to the 3D as appropriate.

The USMC established the USMC Equipment Reset Strategy in 2009, defining quantities, demand, value and options for retrograde and reset, etc., by equipment type. This "playbook", periodically updated, provides planning info to ensure reset decisions are optimum, and both economically efficient and timely. Since 2010, the Army has operated the Retrograde, Reset and Redistribution (R3) initiative to attain essentially the same Service goals, on a larger scale.

Part of the Army/USMC reset posture includes identification and processing of maintenance "washouts.” A washout is defined as equipment which is deemed no longer economical, in the context of the reset process. This is defined in terms of a Maintenance Expenditure Limit (MEL). The Army publishes MELs for each type of deployed equipment. On the other hand, the Marines set a flat MEL of 65% of new procurement costs, in determining economic viability of reset decisions.

Lessons Learned

With experience gained from the Iraq drawdown, similar preparations and activities in Afghanistan proceeded with more comprehensive planning and improved accountability, and databases that better defined the scope of the challenge. Services are allowed to determine the cost/benefit analysis that would determine return or other disposition of material. DoDI 4140.01DoD Supply Chain Materiel Management Policy, is germane, requiring best value decisions across the supply chain, although the GAO reported in 2014 that execution and documentation was inconsistent among Services.

More than 750,000 major end items (boats, aircraft, vehicles, weapons, etc.) worth an estimated $36B were deployed to Afghanistan, with about 85% owned by the Army, and most of the rest by the USMC. Costs as much as $5.7B were projected to remove the equipment from Afghanistan. Some was transferred to other countries or commands, some demilitarized/destroyed at three DLA sites in country, and the rest processed for return through one of ten Army Redistribution Property Assistance Team (RPAT) sites in country, operated by the 401st Army Field Support Brigade of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command (ASC).

In 2018, GAO report 18-621r, Military Readiness: DoD Has Not Yet Incorporated Leading Practices of a Strategic Management Planning Framework in Retrograde and Reset Guidance, provided an assessment of military readiness and previous recommendations and Service actions, identifying that DoD still had inconsistencies in strategic guidance concerning retrograde and reset.  The USMC was highlighted for having not only developed, but implemented, a plan for retrograde and reset, which was completed in 2019-2020.

Reutilization, Transfer and Donation (RTD)

It is DoD policy that excess property must be screened and redistributed among the DoD Components, and to be reported as excess to the General Services Administration (GSA).  A wealth of “ready-to-reuse” property is received daily by DLA Disposition Services, ranging from routine supply requirements to specialized equipment. By taking advantage of the reutilization program, customers can reduce procurement costs and enhance training requirements.  DoD and Special Programs are considered Reutilization Customers whereas other non-DoD Federal agencies are considered Transfer Customers.  State and local activities are known as Donation Customers.  Transfer and Donation Customers may screen DoD property in RTD Web; however, they must go through GSA’s Personal Property Management System to request it. DoD customer and special programs may screen and request property in RTD Web.

Usable, Serviceable and Repairable Property

The DLA Disposition Services field activity will provide the maximum amount of property disposition management services possible within the theatre, and as far forward as practical through either a DLA Defense Distribution Expeditionary Depot (DDED) or DLA Support Team (DST). These disposition management services include the following:

  • The provision of technical assistance to commanders, particularly regarding hazardous material management and disposal, and demilitarization requirements and procedures
  • The receiving, storing, and issuing of foreign excess personal property (FEPP); FEPP is USG property physically located outside the United States and its territories
  • The provision of reutilization, transfer, and donation services
  • Redistribution of FEPP outside DoD is subject to the rules of the Department of State (DoS) and the Department of Commerce (DoC) and will vary from country to country and operation to operation; DLA Disposition Services has a system in place to work with DoS for such redistribution and there is no need for the Services to devise ad hoc systems of their own
  • The provision of coordination for humanitarian assistance programs
  • The conduct of sales where such sales have been coordinated with the host nation through the State Department; sales of FEPP constitute an export from the U.S. and are subject to all export and import rules and restrictions
  • The administrative actions associated with abandonment and destruction of materiel
  • The overseeing of the disposal of all hazardous material or waste (HAZMAT, HW)

Special Requirements Materiel

This materiel includes radioactive items; hospital-generated infectious waste; weapons, explosives, and dangerous articles. Disposal of these items is a Service and national responsibility, and both Service and national regulations and policies apply. Disposal personnel can address specific inquiries regarding what can and cannot be disposed of through normal DLA Disposition Services channels.


The Combatant Command (CCMD) logistics and engineering staffs are responsible for providing policy on unserviceable materiel that has no value except for its basic material content. DLA Disposition Services will provide advice regarding these issues and generally will be responsible for the sale of scrap materials. Care must be taken in the disposal of items declared to be scrap because demilitarization and trade security control requirements apply to scrap just as they do to serviceable property. Likewise, for FEPP, host nation and State Department requirements must also be met.

Munitions, Controlled Items

The CCMD must make provisions for proper disposal of Munitions List Items (MLIs) and Computer Control List Items (CCLI). Significant quantities of DoD materiel are designated MLI and CCLI, with that designation reflected in their demilitarization code. These items require special oversight since it is DoD policy to identify and apply appropriate controls to areas of the world where their use would be in conflict with the interests of US foreign policy. DoD’s first option for disposal of MLIs and CCLIs must be through DLA Disposition Services since it has policies and procedures for the efficient and correct disposal of these items both inside and outside the U.S. When considering the disposal of MLIs and CCLIs, the CCMD should observe the following:

  • In coordination with DLA Disposition Services, determine and implement feasible, cost effective, and efficient options to meet DoD demilitarization requirements
  • Ensure that Service components provide technical assistance to the disposal activity
  • Ensure compliance by subordinate activities with demilitarization requirements
  • Ensure logistic staffs are prepared to support retrograde of MLIs and CCLIs as the primary method of control if in-country disposal options are not viable

Reutilization and Transfers in Deployed Environments

A primary goal of disposal is to maximize reutilization of DoD property. Reutilization of DoD excess is a source of supply for combatant forces, reduces the need for retrograde transportation, and minimizes the need for abandonment and destruction of FEPP. Another effective method of dealing with FEPP in foreign countries is to use humanitarian assistance programs in conjunction with DLA and State Department guidance to transfer excess to non-U.S. recipients. Neither Service components nor subordinate activities should make the transfer of DoD FEPP to foreign governments or non-government organizations. Transfer of FEPP requires DoD and DOS concurrence. DLA Disposition Services will provide coordination with the local and federal government, and the CCMD logistics staff to expedite the selection and transfer of FEPP to authorized recipients.