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Making Retrograde: Air Mobility Command is packing US military airlifters on their return flights to the United States with excess war material from Southwest Asia in an effort to avoid a log jam as coalition operations in Afghanistan wind down. "We are saving time and money by using aircraft that are already positioned and would otherwise return empty," said Brian Trout, deputy plans chief with the 618th Air and Space Operations Center at Scott AFB, Ill. Cooperating with US Central Command, US Transportation Command is identifying "retrograde" equipment not assigned to specific units for repatriation by air or also sealift. "The operation is in its infancy at the moment," explained Lt. Col. Chris Fuller, 618th AOC planning chief. "With constant collaboration, we can maximize operations to efficiently move this mountain of cargo," he added. Having started early this year, the command is "ahead of the game" but the challenge "will last the next couple of years," admitted Fuller. The United States intends to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014. (Scott release)