by Major Tim Mac McKernan, 43d Area Support Group, Fort Carson, Colorado
Amateurs talk tactics. Professionals talk logistics.
Nowhere is this axiom more true than here in Operation Iraqi Freedom, where logisticians performed a near-miracle by continually sustaining our combat forces despite long supply lines and an extreme shortage of supply and transportation units. Despite some news reports that the war had to be halted due to a lack of supplies, never once did tanks run out of fuel, infantryman have no bullets, nor soldiers and marines run out of food. And the logisticians made it happen. Logisticians made it happen under extreme conditions, with little sleep, and against a determined enemy.
For the soldiers of the 43d Area Support Group of Fort Carson, Colorado, taking care of soldiers isn't something we simply like or are forced to do. Taking care of soldiers is WHAT we do. Every day, we do what we love. We sustain our military forces, and uphold our unit motto as the "PROVIDERS."
Since our unit deployed to Kuwait in January of 2003, 43d soldiers have completed a multitude of tasks supporting each and every soldier deploying first in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and subsequently Operation Iraqi Freedom. Previously, I wrote about our support to Reception, Staging, Onward movement, and Integration (RSOI) our fine soldiers provided in Kuwait. In early March, just as our forces entered Baghdad, our unit received the challenging and exciting mission of deploying to Iraq to establish a logistics hub to serve military forces throughout the Baghdad and Northern Iraq area. 43d ASG Staff Photo Baghdad.jpg
43rd Area Support Group Staff, photo taken at the Hands of Victory" memorial in downtown Baghdad, Iraq. Often referred to as the Crossed Swords" memorial, it was built by the former Iraqi regime to commemorate the Iraqi victory" over Iran during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.
Once the 43d ASG staff located a suitable site for the logistics hub, the soldiers and leaders of the 541st Maintenance Battalion, the Pacesetters" from Fort Riley, Kansas, quickly cleaned up a compound formerly used by Iraqi Army parachute forces (who never made it off the ground). Within days, warehouses were cleaned, parking areas were graded, and the Pacesetter team began doing what it does best: sustaining the fighting forces. From food to water to general supplies to maintenance to transportation, the 541st Maintenance Battalion and its units are able to take care of virtually every need for the many thousands of military and other governmental organizations in the Baghdad area. The 541st soldiers direct traffic" 24/7 as they ensure their subordinate units receive guidance and get the mission of supporting soldiers completed at the right time, in the right amount, and at the right place. Although an incredibly complex task, these great soldiers get the job done and make sure our forces have everything they need to continue combat operations and support stability and support operations in Iraq. Front Gate Log Base Seitz.jpg
Above is the front gate to Log Base Seitz, the home away from home for 541st Maintenance Battalion of Fort Riley, Kansas. The Pacesetters and their subordinate units provide supplies, maintenance, fuel, water, showers, laundry, and transportation support to the thousands of soldiers in and around Baghdad, Iraq.
When it comes to almost every type of supply, the 1014th Quartermaster Company, the Army Reserve Sand Cats" from Greensburg, Pennsylvania lead the way. They impact every soldier around Baghdad every day as they receive, store and issue all of the food to our forces. Their task is daunting, yet they never fail to get units what they need. However, food is not all the Sand Cats do. They provide general supplies such as office supplies, oils and lubricants and barrier materiel such as plywood and concertina wire used to defend our troops from attack. There mission doesn't stop there, however, as they also set up gas stations" and purify water. Truly a diverse unit, the Sand Cats take great pride in knowing they touch so many soldiers' lives everyday. Ration Issuing Log Base Seitz.jpg
Here, soldiers from the 1014th Quartermaster Company, the Sand Cats" of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, provide food, water, fresh fruits and vegetables to soldiers stationed around Baghdad, Iraq.
MRE Warehouse Log Base Seitz.jpg
Soldiers from the 1014th Quartermaster Company operate a large warehouse containing thousands of cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs) and Unitized Group Rations (UGRs), at Log Base Seitz, Baghdad, Iraq.
With the thousands of trucks, generators, and other pieces of equipment that make the Army run, the soldiers of the 542nd Maintenance Company, Good Wrench" from Fort Lewis, Washington, make sure broken equipment gets fixed and back to units quickly. Truly a combat multiplier, these hard working mechanics can, and do, fix almost every type of truck and other equipment imaginable. From welding operations to engine replacements to rebuilding motor parts, the Good Wrench soldiers get it done. And for simpler repairs which units can make themselves, the 542nd operates a repair parts warehouse that rivals any automobile parts supply store in the United States. Mechanic Fixing HMMWV Log Base Seitz.jpg
Here, a mechanic from 542nd Maintenance Company, Good Wrench", from Fort Lewis, Washington, repairs the engine of a military police unit's HMMWV, more commonly referred to as a HUMMER. Soldiers from 542nd are able to repair a myriad of vehicles and other Army equipment.
When people think of Iraq, the first word that pops into many minds is hot", and for a good reason. With daytime temperatures now well above 110 degrees, soldiers must endure searing heat as they go about their rigorous duties. Two units play a critical role by producing and storing water for not only the many soldiers around Baghdad, but for the local population as well.
The 1555th Quartermaster Water Purification Detachment, the Water Dawgs of the Iowa National Guard, Dubuque, Iowa, produce between 200,000 and up to 800,000 gallons of water a day. The water that once served as a moat around one of Saddam Hussein's large palace compounds now is used to quench the thirst of our great soldiers and marines who drove him from power and liberated the Iraqi people. Using 3,000 gallon per hour Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Units (ROWPUs), the Water Dawgs draw untreated water from the moat, run it through a complex series of filters, and produce the finest, purest water available. As they produce water, the soldiers of the 1555th first store it in 3,000-gallon tanks referred to as onionskin tanks due to their resemblance to onions. From there, they transfer it to larger tanks via a Tactical Water Distribution system, or TWDS, where its sister unit stores it in a large bag farm and issues it to customers. ROWPUs Palace Compound Baghdad.jpg
The Water Dawgs of 1555th Quartermaster Water Purification Detachment, Iowa National Guard, Dubuque, Iowa, produce drinking water for the many soldiers and the local population located near Baghdad, Iraq. The water the unit purifies is drawn from a moat surrounding one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces.
Once the water is purified, it ends up being stored and issued by the 79th Quartermaster Water Supply Company. These Army Reserve soldiers, hailing from Marion, Tiffon, and Akron, Ohio and also known as the Water Dawgs", use 50,000 gallon collapsible water tanks to hold vast amounts of water until it can be picked up and delivered to the soldiers and local population parched from the searing Iraqi sun. The water bags, which are similar to a very, very large waterbed mattress, are arrayed across a large field. From the bags, water is piped to a nearby road, where the 79th soldiers fill tanks of all shapes and sizes, including units' 400-gallon water buffalos" and 3,000 gallon Semi-Trailer Mounted Fabric Tanks (SMFTs). As the water soldiers of the 79th and 1555th are fond of saying, The tanks may run on fuel, but the American soldier runs on water!" Water Supply Baghdad Palace Compound.jpg
Soldiers from the 79th Quartermaster Water Supply Company, Army Reservists from Ohio, store and issue water from large water tanks near Baghdad, Iraq.
Water is undoubtedly the lifeline of our great servicemen and servicewomen. To make the thousands of tanks, helicopters, trucks, and other pieces of equipment operate, fuel serves as the lifeblood. As General Patton once said, My soldiers can eat their boot leather, but my tanks gotta have gas." And gas they get from the Fuelers" of the 53rd Quartermaster Petroleum Supply Company of Fort Hood, Texas. Using the same type of 50,000 gallon bags as the water units use, the 79th soldiers store several hundred thousand gallons of fuel used to make the Army machine move. Each day, the unit receives fuel hauled into Iraq from Kuwait in large 7,500-gallon tankers, where it is pumped into the bags. From there, they issue the fuel to both other large tankers that belong to other units as well as to individual vehicles. In essence, they operate both a fuel storage depot as well as a gas station. The soldiers of the 53rd receive a great sense of pride each time they see a tank roll by or a helicopter take off. They know they are the ones, Fueling the force." Fuel System Supply Point Baghdad.jpg
Here, the Fuelers" of the 53rd Quartermaster Petroleum Supply Company of Fort Hood Texas operate a fuel system supply point where they issue fuel to large Army fuel tankers. These hard-working soldiers also run a retail fuel point where they fill up wheeled vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
Army transporters often say Nothing happens until something moves." The 1161st Transportation Company Cougars" of the Washington National Guard not only know how to move things, but they know how move a LOT. Although a long way from Euphrata, Washington, these dedicated truckers make sure soldiers throughout Central Iraq receive the thousands of pounds of food, supplies, and repair parts needed to keep the Army machine rolling. The amazing Palletized Load System (PLS) trucks can haul pallets of cargo or twenty foot steel containers with supplies over virtually any terrain. When traveling over the rugged ground where many units are located, these soldiers make it happen despite the large threat from enemy attack. The unit's hard working soldiers were recently reminded of the continued threat on the roads of Iraq when one of their vehicles struck an anti-tank mine, injuring two of the unit's soldiers. Although the PLS was damaged, neither soldier was critically injured. PLS Truck Carrying Cargo.jpg
The Euphrata, Washington National Guard Cougars" haul critical cargo throughout Central Iraq using their all-terrain Palletized Load Systems (PLS).
Although Iraq is not all desert as many once thought, it certainly is a hot, dirty place. With frequent sandstorms, staying clean usually is not an option. To provide some relief, however, the Cobras" of Fort Lee, Virginia's 16th Quartermaster Field Service Company come to the rescue. When soldiers find themselves sweaty and grimy, 16th soldiers are there to provide showers. When clothes get dirty, they are there to launder them. Even the inevitable tears to uniforms are no match for the fine Cobra soldiers, who have set up multiple locations near Baghdad to help take care of the other hard-working soldiers stationed in Central Iraq. Field Services.jpg
Here, a soldier from Fort Lee, Virginia's 16th Field Service Company, the Cobras, explains how her unit takes care of soldiers by providing them a good hot shower and laundry services. Located at several locations around Baghdad, these soldiers are a welcomed sight at the end of a tough day in Iraq.
Although major combat operations in Iraq have ended, Americans are often reminded that Iraq remains a dangerous place, as soldiers and marines continue to give their lives in support of our country. The soldiers of the 54th Mortuary Affairs Company from Fort Lee, Virginia, give fallen soldiers the dignity and respect they deserve. Although having one of the toughest jobs in the Army, these dedicated professionals ensure the remains of deceased soldiers are properly identified, prepared, and shipped quickly home to their families. Mortuary Affairs Soldiers.jpg
Here, mortuary affairs specialists from Fort Lee, Virginia's 54th Mortuary Affairs Company prepare to process personal effects of a fallen soldier.
Keeping the peace with the local population is critical to maintaining stability in Iraq, and the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, the Army Reserve Peacemakers" from Utica, New York take on this mission for the 43d ASG. On a daily basis, these hard-working soldiers visit the locals, meet with village elders, and assist units in finding critical supplies available in Baghdad. By fostering a good working relationship with the local villages, they have been able to greatly reduce the number of attacks on military forces around Baghdad. Additionally, they have made many friends by helping distribute food, water, and medicines that help make the needy peoples' lives just a little bit better. Civil Affairs SPC Kress.jpg
Getting out and working with the population is the mission of the 414th Civil Affairs Team, an Army Reserve Unit from Utica, New York. Here, SPC Daniel Kress, 43d Area Support Group, makes some friends while visiting Garma Rail Station, Iraq during a visit sponsored by the 414th Civil Affairs Team.
Even the soldiers who do such a great job supporting soldiers need a little support themselves. One of the oldest military sayings is that, An army travels on its stomach." And although MREs are always available for soldiers on the move and during intense combat, having a hot meal is a great morale booster. Army cooks, assigned to almost every tactical unit, take great pride in taking care of their" soldiers, and the soldiers of 43d Area Support Group have some of the best cooks in the Army. Up before the sun rises and working late into the night, the cooks are critical to every unit's well being, yet are rarely recognized for their contributions. However, ask any soldier who has spent any time deployed to a remote area or served in a combat zone and you will soon understand how much the soldiers themselves appreciate their cooks. Containerized Kitchen Log Base Seitz.jpg
Soldiers deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom can count on a nutritious, hot meal wherever they find a Containerized Kitchen (CK) such as the one above manned by Staff Sergeant Gregory Hyde of the 43d Area Support Group, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Sometimes, getting a good meal just isn't enough. Mental nourishment, especially in a high-stress environment such as encountered in a combat zone, is provided to every service member by one of the many Chaplains assigned to military units. Whether of Christian, Jewish, or Islamic faith, Chaplains stand by to offer spiritual guidance, support and counseling. Whether a unit is engaged in heavy fighting or far to the rear, a Chaplain is always nearby doing what they do best, which is helping keep our military men and women spiritually fit and ready to take on every challenge faced. Chapel Services Log Base Seitz.jpg
Here, soldiers assigned to Log Base Seitz in Baghdad, Iraq receive spiritual guidance and fellowship during a religious service conducted by Chaplain (Captain) Scott Kennedy, 43d Area Support Group Chaplain.
Our logistics soldiers are truly unsung heroes of every battle our country has fought. Although often portrayed as being in the rear area where the danger is low, you can rest assured that wherever a battle is being fought, a logistician is close by, making sure the combat soldiers have everything they need to win our nation's wars. And for the many brave young men and women serving with the 43rd Area Support Group in Baghdad, Iraq, you can rest assured they are ready to support their fellow soldiers anytime, anywhere.
As for me, since they just told me it is currently 122 degrees outside, I think it is time to take a break on this Father's day to sit back, relax, and take comfort in knowing I'm part of the greatest military organization ever known
Author's Biography: Major Tim Mac" McKernan served as the Group S-3 (Security, Plans, and Operations) for the 43rd Area Support Group of Fort Carson, Colorado. Major McKernan and the rest of the Provider team were deployed to Kuwait in January, where they supported soldiers until they moved their operations to Baghdad, Iraq in early April.
LTC Mark Drake, 19 Jun 03
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
In October of 2002, while at the Joint Readiness Training Center, the 548th Corps Support Battalion was notified that they would be on the list to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At that time, every unit under the 548th CSB at Fort Drum was on the plan to deploy. Only the Battalion Commander, LTC Mark Drake, and Major James Soos (Support Operation Officer) were "read on" to the fact that the Battalion would be key in supporting the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) while task organized under the 101st Corps Support Group from Fort Campbell, KY.
Throughout the winter, planning continued, and in January 2003, the 59th Chemical Company received the call to deploy in support of the 3rd Infantry Division. In February, the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (HHD) received notification to deploy. All equipment was line-hauled to Jacksonville, Florida where it was trans-loaded to ships destined for South West Asia, Kuwait. The HHD arrived in Kuwait on 23 March. Within minutes of our arrival at Camp Wolf, near Kuwait International Airport, we donned our chemical gear. This would be the first of many Scud alerts that we experienced. Shortly after our arrival to Kuwait, we moved to Camp New York, 90 minutes north of Kuwait City in the middle of the desert. The Battalion HQs, in conjunction with the 101st Corps Support Group immediately started to support the fight in IRAQ with ammunition, supplies, and Ground Assault Convoy support.
Simultaneously, we began the Reception, Staging, Integration, and Onward Movement of all 101st Corps Support Group units.
The 548th Corps Support Battalion task organization changed drastically from what everyone at Fort Drum was familiar with. We now commanded and controlled the 137th Field Service Company (Reserves) from El Monte, California, the 588th Maintenance Company (Active Duty) from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the 811th Ordnance Company (Reserves) from West Virginia, the 546th Transportation Company (Active Duty) from Fort Bragg, the 253rd Transportation Company (National Guard) from New Jersey, the 196th Transportation Company (Reserves) from Florida, and the 349th Quartermaster Company (National Guard) from California.
The battalion grew to 1,090 soldiers within a couple weeks. On a daily basis, we seemed to add two new chairs to our Battle Update Brief (BUB), in order to accommodate the new Commander and First Sergeant who had joined our team. The integration into the Battalion was simple: welcome to the 548th CSB, we are glad to have you as part of our team, we need your personnel, maintenance, and asset data; here is your first mission brief, get your people and equipment ready, you're going into Iraq tomorrow!
The Evolution of the 1,229 Kilometer Line of Communication known as
The Sword Express
Within days of our arrival, we had equipment that needed maintenance. We had mechanics and a DS Maintenance Company, but we lacked a dedicated and consistent parts flow from the Theater Distribution Center in Doha, Kuwait. The Battalion devised a plan to send a daily tractor trailer run to Doha, Kuwait to pick up parts that were ordered through our STAMISs and high priority call ins. We were now processing parts daily, while many other units in the operation, were not. This was the first 100-kilometer leg of what would quickly become a 1,229-kilometer logistical Line of Communication (LOC).
The 548th echeloned our capability into Iraq, to Forward Logistical Base (FLB) ELM, in Iskandariyah, Iraq, just south of Baghdad. This extended our LOC to over 600 kilometers. Upon the arrival of the first element of the 546th Transportation Company at FLB Elm, we briefed the company commander, CPT Belanger, on our concept of a "Redball Express" later renamed "Sword Express" from DOHA, Kuwait through Camp New York, to our current location (FLB ELM). The unit eagerly accepted the mission and the trucks headed south to Doha. At this time, we all thought that this LOC was huge.
The 548th once more was given the mission to relocate its assets forward to Logistical Support Area (LSA) Anaconda, near Balad, Iraq, located north of Baghdad. This furthermore extended our LOC to almost 900 kilometers. The 546th yet again met the challenge and delivered parts (10- 5ton Cargos and 2 tractor trailers) every other day, all the way from Doha to LSA Anaconda.
The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) divisional representatives asked for assistance to move their critical supplies and parts all the way from Doha to Mosul. We once more accepted and the 546th never hesitated to step up to the plate. This extended the LOC to 1,226 kilometers, with just one Light Medium Truck Company carrying the load. They continued this for three rotations until the supplies outweighed the capabilities of their equipment. The drivers never faltered in this monumental and historical task.
The Sword Express continues from Doha, Kuwait to Mosul, Iraq delivering supplies, parts, and mail. The team now consists of soldiers and equipment of the 546th, 253rd, and the 196th Transportation Companies. The leadership and units of this Battalion, not only speak "Lets roll", we put it into action on a daily basis.
The 811thOrdnance Company establishes Ammunition Holding Areas, and is called by V Corps to account for and store all of the Iraqi Captured Ammunition in Taji, Iraq.
The 811th Ordnance Company, under the 548th CSB, from West Virginia has met every challenge we have thrown at them. In the initial stages of the war the ammunition and supply mission was simply get it north, now! The 811th rolled out into Iraq with critical supplies and equipment to meet the 101st Airborne Division's (Air Assault) needs on a regular basis. Simultaneously, their ammunition handlers, worked to prepared and loaded ammunition on Chinook helicopters in Kuwait to be pushed forward to the soldiers who needed to maintain the fierce fighting in Iraq.
At Camp New York they dramatically enhanced the operation and safety of the Ammunition Holding Area. Other units quickly noticed the 811th capabilities and professionalism. When the 548th relocated to Iskandariyah, Iraq they once more called upon to assist the 24th Ordnance Company to establish and operate the Corps Ammunition Storage Area (CSA) at LSA Dogwood. Once again, they excelled and turned-in excess divisional ammunition at a remarkable pace. This eased the external lift requirements tremendously, as the Division relocated to Mosul.
The 811th yet again bound to LSA Anaconda and shortly after their arrival, the battalion received a fragmentation order that they were selected to accomplish the awesome task of consolidating and accounting for all captured Iraqi ammunition. They also were directed to establish yet another Ammunition Holding Area. This mission is now known as "Task Force Bullet". Sixty to Eighty truckloads of enemy ammunition arrive daily to Taji and the 811th undertakes the mission with ease.
Daily, they are met with the challenges of avoiding thousands of unexploded ordnance munitions, chemicals, and nightly harassment fire from outside the perimeter. History will capture the efforts of the 811th, and the new Iraqi Corps will owe thanks and praise to the professionalism of the unit that established their new and improved ammunition stocks.
"Logbase Sword", the lifeline of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) & Echelon Above Division Units (EAD)
Where do all supplies and mail go to first before they reach the hands of a 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) or EAD units? It goes to "Logbase Sword" in LSA Anaconda. Shortly after arrival at LSA Anaconda, the 548th Corps Support Battalion bermed out a 300-meter by 500-meter area in the sand. It now is known as "Logbase Sword". Palletized Loading Systems and forklifts expeditiously move all supplies for the 101st from the Corps Distribution Center to Logbase Sword within hours of their arrival.
The Sword Express (South) from Doha also trans-loads fifteen to twenty truckloads of repair parts and supplies into the system. The final, and most important, piece of the logistics puzzle is the Divisions mail. Mail arrives at the Corps Mail Terminal daily and within hours the 548th moves all supplies and mail North to Mosul. The trucks are downloaded and return to up-load pre-staged packages for a return trip.
One of the 548th Corps Support Battalions newest members, the 349th Quartermaster Supply Company from California, controls the daily operation of Logbase Sword. The transportation of all the commodities is a team effort from the 196th, 546th, and 253rd Transportation Companies.
548th attains the highest level of Asset Utilization since start of Ground War.
On 17 May 2003 the 548th Corps Support Battalion attained a new level of transportation utilization; 131 of 132 mission capable trucks were supporting the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and EAD units.
The 196th, 253rd, and 546th Transportation Companies were accomplishing missions all along the1,226 kilometer line of communication from Doha, Kuwait to Mosul, Iraq. The pace for these three companies has been non-stop during
Operation Iraqi Freedom. We consistently have been at 85% or above utilization but never at 99%. The company areas are empty, except for the Headquarters Sections.
A needed and deserved Safety Down Day is scheduled for May 18th where all Battalion Transportation Companies will stand down, review safety and rest. On May 19th, the pace will surge to 90% once again.
137th Field Service Company provides Showers and Laundry to
Soldiers immediately following 101st Battles
The 137th Field Service Company from California was Task Organized under the 548th from March thru May. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during the initial stages of the war did not need showers or laundry; they needed trucks to assist in an unprecedented Ground Assault Convoy into Iraq. The 137th Field Service Company soldiers stood up to the challenge amongst many others to assist the Division in getting to and from the fight.
Immediately following the battle, the company forward deployed its assets to support all Brigade soldiers with well-deserved showers and laundry. To a combat soldier their first shower and clean uniform after a battle is something they never will forget. The Battalion and the 137th was not willing to wait to provide these required services and pushed forward early, despite the inherent dangers of the battlefield.
The entire 548th CSB was proud to serve with the 137th FSC and they will be remembered throughout our Battalion history as a loyal and dedicated member of our team. The soldiers of the 101st will never forget the 137th and would be proud to have them as a part of the team anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
588th Maintenance Company Keeps the Sword Express Rolling and Equipment Running.
What do you get when you send soldiers and equipment to War in the Desert? A whole lot of broke equipment. The 588th Maintenance Company, from Fort Sill, OK was charged by LTC Drake to fix it fast.
. Early on the Battalion conducted daily Direct Support and Organization Maintenance meetings. The first one had only two commanders. Within weeks we had nine company commanders attending the meetings. Early in the fight we received an urgent call to support the 494th Transportation Company whose equipment was on the brink of becoming absolutely non-mission capable.
The 588th had just arrived, but they immediately downloaded their equipment, set up shop, and went to work throughout the night and day to bring the company back up to standard. They continued their fierce maintenance pace through Operation Iraqi Freedom. Often, the company conducted split operations with its Supply Support Activity to ensure that the mechanics had a constant flow of parts to repair non-mission capable or damaged equipment.
196th Transportation Company from Florida is going to Disney World after Operation Iraqi Freedom
One sight that logisticians in theater have seen is Palletized Loading System racks with bright yellow "Mickey Mouse" ears painted on them. The 196th is the most requested asset that the 548th has in its inventory. The PLS is extremely flexible on the battlefield and allows supplies and containers to rapidly move from one location to another. The 196th accomplished the huge task of assisting in move the 101st Airborne Division over 1200 kilometers.
The 196th has accomplished too many missions to mention in this article, but they were a key player in the successes attained by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The 196th was there in the early stages of the war and will continue to keep the trucks rolling.
Many 196th soldiers seemed to feel that many months would pass until would see a palm tree again. Little did they know they would travel through Kuwait and deep into Iraq, where palm trees scatter the Iraqi desert Oasis. We're not sure how many of 196th soldiers will take us up on our offers to come to visit Fort Drum in the winter, but we sure will take the 196th offers to visit Florida.
253rd Transportation Company from New Jersey has creates a Turnpike of their own in during
Operation Iraqi Freedom
The 253rd Transportation Company from New Jersey came just in time to meet the challenges of moving equipment from Kuwait to Mosul, Iraq. As soon as they arrived they asked for missions, and immediately received them.
One of the Brigades from the 101st was reluctant to let the trucks come back due to the great job they were doing forward on the battlefield.
While our other companies were busy with the "Sword Express" the 253rd became the "tactical mobility" company. They pushed far forward into the fight to support right down to the Infantry Company level. Without hesitation, the drivers of the 253rd leaned forward under very dangerous and difficult circumstances.
During these times with the troops and equipment out all over the world, one must wonder what keeps these machines moving and the answer is simple fuel. The 701st Main Support of the 1st Infantry Division has been doing this quite intensively for one year. It all started in May 2002 when Alpha Company deployed fourteen 5,000-gallon fuel tankers to Czech Republic to support the 2nd Brigade. During this operation the platoon issued over 2000,000 gallons of fuel and set-up the first Fuel System Supply Point, two 20,000-gallon collapsible fuel bags.
Once the unit went back to Germany three 77L's, Petroleum Laboratory Specialists, were sent to Kosovo. They would deploy with the 299th Logistical Task Force. Their job is to ensure the fuel meets specifications set by the Department of the Army. There is still one 77L deployed and he has been doing an outstanding job.
In December 2002, the platoon received a mission to go to Luxembourg to receive over 50,000 gallons of fuel from Sanem Air Base in Luxembourg. In order to do this mission 14 fuel tankers were used which called for a great deal of preparatory maintenance and route planning. In order for the 400-mile convoy to run smoothly it was arranged that the troops would stay overnight in Kaiserslaughtern and bed down before continuing the drive into Luxembourg. This was to ensure the safety of drivers and enable them to get a good night's rest. The mission was done without a hitch and another job was accomplished by the 701st MSB POL platoon.
In December the unit was alerted for operation in Turkey to support the 4th Infantry Division. This time all 34 of the platoon's fuel tankers would have to be involved in the mission. The first matter at hand would be to get the tankers purged and drained of all fuel in Mannheim. Afterwards, the trucks would be loaded onto vessels at the port and headed to Antwerp where they would ultimately go to the Port of Iskenderun. During the port operation the platoon issued over 20,000 gallons. They were to remain there until April 2003. After the Turks refused to let US Army soldiers set up in their country and allow troops access to Iraq, the platoon redeployed all fuel tankers back to home base in Germany.
After returning home and relaxing with their loved ones again, the platoon once again had to send squads to Hohenfels and Czech to support the Infantry brigades with fuel support. Combined well over 75,000 gallons of fuel were issued to customers during these two months.
While the 701st Main Support Battalion is currently focusing on maintenance, the Petroleum platoon is waiting for its next big challenge.
In June, the company Executive Officer was sent to Bosnia to assume duties as the Sub Area Petroleum Officer, which makes him responsible for the coordination of all fuels in the Balkans.
The writer, 1LT Sherdrick Rankin, is currently serving as the Petroleum Officer for the Balkans in Bosnia. He is a graduate of the 77F Advance Individual Training, Petroleum Vehicle Operator Course, 77F Basic Non-Commissioned Officer's Course, Petroleum Officer's Course (Phase I)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|