Logistics: August 29, 2005

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Few people realize what radical changes the U.S. Army supply forces had to implement in early 2004, in response to the Baath Partys guerrilla war campaign against the military supply lines. To keep American troops in Iraq supplied, some 200 convoys a day had to be run up the main highway from Kuwait to Baghdad, and points north, plus another main east-west route going through Baghdad. It could take supplies as long as nine days to reach the northernmost units. The biggest problem, initially, wasnt ambushes, but the 300 bridges (most of the small ones going over minor canals or creeks). The solution to these attacks was to turn the transportation troops into combat troops, as well as adding MPs, and sometimes combat troops, to guard convoys and deal with the ambushes. Many of the first Iraqis recruited and trained for guard duty, were put to work protecting all those bridges. It was a well paying, if dangerous, job. Those Iraqis guards who protected their assigned jobs kept their jobs, those who didnt, lost them. This incentive system worked.

There were still some interruptions. To deal with this, four major logistics storage centers were established in different parts of Iraq. Thus even if blown bridges or torn up highways interrupted the major convoys coming from Kuwait, the troops further up the line still had supplies. After about a year, the terrorists lost their stomach for attacking the convoys. Too often, the attackers had the tables turned and took heavy casualties. The attackers regularly lost more people than they themselves could hurt. Moreover, attacks made in populated areas, usually populated by Sunni Arabs, killed civilians. Americans stayed around to help the civilian wounded, while the terrorists fled. To Iraqi civilians, this turned the terrorists into cowardly, and ineffective (except against civilians) killers.

 


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