| GEO World|
| Iraq, Afghan wars biggest since WWII: US general|
| Updated at: 1154 PST, Saturday, April 03, 2010|
WASHINGTON: The US military's drawdown in Iraq and buildup in Afghanistan represents the biggest movement of troops and equipment since World War II, a top general said Friday.
"This is the largest operation, that we've been able to determine, since the build-up for World War II," said Lieutenant General William Webster, who oversees the effort as head of the Third Army.
Webster described a mammoth logistical task in moving 30,000 troops, more than 5,000 vehicles and tons of supplies to Afghanistan, while pulling out equipment and tens of thousands of forces from Iraq all by a September deadline.
About 2.8 million pieces of equipment are being withdrawn from Iraq as part of a gradual US drawdown underway, and the army has to decide what items can be shifted to Afghanistan, shipped back to the United States or left behind in Iraq, Webster said.
"We began, actually, last June moving equipment out of Iraq, and we're sorting it out here in Kuwait," he said by video link from a US base there.
"Some of it goes into Afghanistan; some of it goes back to the army to be reset back in the depots and then returned to our soldiers who are training back in" the United States, he said.
The combined drawdown in Iraq and surge in Afghanistan has been dubbed "Nickel II," the general said. The codename plays off the Third Army's role in World War II, when General Patton ordered a dramatic turnabout to attack the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. Patton called his operation "Nickel."
"So when we looked at that operation historically and the size of it, we realized that we were many times greater than that and over a much longer duration," he said.