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The General Lee Comes Home

General Lee will be just one of the more than 300,000 major pieces of equipment the Army has spent $38 billion to repair to date under the process it calls reset, according to a September Congressional Budget Office report. The process is complex, involving a multitude of military organizations and contractors, hundreds of people and hours of work.

Time after time in Iraq, General Lee saved soldiers from improvised explosive devices, but an explosion in April left it unrepairable in Iraq and declared a battle loss.

General Lee is known far and wide from writer Michael Yon’s dispatch titled “Superman,” which recounts some Army unit activities in Iraq that left soldiers virtually unscathed while riding in General Lee.

Michael Yon is an independent writer, photographer and former Green Beret who was embedded in Iraq for nine months in 2005. He has returned to Iraq for 2007 to continue reporting on the war. He is entirely reader supported and publishes his work at Michael Yon’s Online Magazine.

General Dynamics [GD] builds Stryker vehicles in 10 variants for the Army in Lima, Ohio, Canada and at Anniston Army Depot, Ala. General Dynamics has delivered more than 2,100 Strykers to the Army. The Army has fielded 1,800 to date.

Better known to the Army and General Dynamics as ATGM-0086, General Lee is a Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) variant, with a two-tube TOW missile launcher.

With parts from Lima, Ohio and Canada shipped for assembly into the ATGM variant completed at Anniston Army Depot in March 2004, General Lee was handed over to the Army, which actually “owns” the vehicle and holds the title. The Program Manager Stryker Brigade Combat Team owns all Stryker vehicles and manages them essentially from cradle to grave.

ATGM-0086 was sent Jan. 19, 2005 to the 172nd Infantry Brigade, A company, 52nd Infantry based at Ft. Lewis, Wash.

The vehicle was reassigned Sept. 6, 2005, to the 3rd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division, C Company 52 infantry Iraq, where the platoon renamed their Stryker the General Lee.

But what to do with the General Lee? It would be up to two hours before recovery assets could arrive. [Photo courtesy of C-52 of 3/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, from the dispatch “Superman“]


After bringing its soldiers through several roadside bombs and local repairs, on April 15 General Lee was hit hard by such a bomb and technically determined a battle loss–like totaling a car–on April 16.

A Contractor Logistics Support Team from General Dynamics Land Systems and the unit made that assessment.

The recommendation to send General Lee to Anniston was made based on the amount of damage versus the capability to repair it in parts, labor, and raw material in theater. Soldiers do not do maintenance or battle damage repair on Strykers.

Here’s how that works. The unit handed General Lee over to technical experts provided by the Stryker Project Managers Office. These experts determined the Stryker could not be repaired with the standard repair and maintenance processes and handed it on to the Forward Repair Activity (FRA) for an initial limited, but more detailed technical inspection to determine what parts and materials were required to repair the damage.

Based on that assessment, parts and other requirements were identified and orders placed so some materials would be available when the General Lee was ready for repairs at Anniston Army Depot, Ala.

The next day the Army reported General Lee a battle loss.

On June 5, General Lee left the FRA and was transported to Kuwait. At that point, General Dynamics’ records show General Lee had been driven a total of 18,851 miles, with 2,114 hours on the engine.

From the docks in Kuwait, General Lee on June 23 was placed aboard the MV Cape Edmont for transport to the United States and on to Anniston Army Depot.

The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) owns and manages the vehicle carrier Cape Edmont, which is part of the Ready Reserve Fleet, which brings General Lee to the United States where it will be debarked in Charleston, S.C.

In Kuwait, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), working with Army Materiel Command, ensured the paperwork was in place and General Lee properly loaded on the Cape Edmont. SDDC also makes sure General Lee is unloaded in the right place, put on a truck and delivered to Anniston, complete with the proper paperwork.

MV Cape Edmont set sail with a mixed cargo that MARAD said included 130 vehicles, 72 trailers, 49 “dead tow” vehicles, or those that had to be towed on board, containers and helicopters for a total square footage of 89,823.

At sea, Military Sealift Command, the Navy component of U.S. Transportation Command, “owns” Cape Edmont while it transits to the United States.

Once unloaded in Charleston, General Lee will be taken on the long, about 600 mile journey to Anniston Army Depot for a more in-depth final technical assessment. Once that is done, reset work can begin.

A similar process is followed for each of the thousands and thousands of vehicles that are returned from theater and are shepherded through reset.

Editor’s note: This story is the first installment of a series on the General Lee and reset.

(C) 2007 Access Intelligence LLC. Reprinted with permission.

Ann Roosevelt

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