In a significant indication of where the Army anticipates it will be deployed over coming years, and what it will be doing there, the service is planning to relocate some of its vast overseas stores of combat equipment and alter the contents of other warehouse stocks to reflect the changing nature of the mission after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Large numbers of MRAPs, the armored troop carriers built to withstand the blast of improvised explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan, would be stored in Italy, where they could be transported for contingencies across Africa. Those could include disaster relief in hostile environments, civilian evacuations or counterinsurgency assistance to local security forces.
In addition, MRAPs would be sent to warehouses in the western Pacific for potential use during a conflict on the Korean Peninsula, under current planning being included in Pentagon budgets now taking shape, even as significant numbers are stored in Southwest Asia and the Persian Gulf region.
Plans call for the brigade-size stock of armored fighting vehicles now stored in Europe to be brought home, although other infantry and support equipment would remain. A primary mission for the gear to be stored in Europe would be to supply multilateral training exercises among American and allied troops.
The Army wants to locate sets of equipment that could be pulled from storage for multilateral training exercises and other contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region, most likely aboard ships and perhaps in Australia, officials say. Other Army storage sites around the world may see an increase in gear designed for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The Army emptied many of its overseas weapons warehouses to fight the wars of the past decade and is using the end of combat in Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan to analyze where the gear — officially called Army prepositioned stocks — should be located, and exactly what types of equipment should be included to carry out the shifting Army mission.
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