The U.S. military could save millions of dollars in transport and logistics costs when equipment returns from Afghanistan, based on a plan developed by a center headquartered at UW-Madison.

The university's National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE) has signed an agreement with a military base in Mississippi to make the base the logistics hub for returning equipment.

Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg will become a critical part of a strategic military intermodal logistic hub, according to a University Communications news release.

The massive shipment of military goods from Afghanistan back to America involves 750,000 pieces of equipment worth $36 billion.

The return of equipment is expected to cost a total of $7 billion as combat operations wind down in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

UW-Madison engineering professor Teresa Adams, head of CFIRE, said a big component of the logistics plan is naming the port of Gulfport, Miss. as a "strategic seaport" to ship the military gear to.

"Based on our experience, the joint utilization of the port of Gulfport as a strategic seaport and Camp Shelby as a depot site will allow the Army to create an innovative logistics solution, maximize its limited resources and realize benefits from the joint force capabilities within the South Mississippi Defense Corridor," Adams said.

CFIRE is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Research and Technology, with the northern hub led by UW-Madison.

Bill Novak is a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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