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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005





Part IV

Sustaining the Campaign


Chapter 12
Logistics and Combat Service Support Operations

 

The CSS Structure for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM

The CSS concept of support for OIF included the linkages between the combat formations fighting at the tactical level, the theater support units at the operational level, and the national providers (such as the AMC) at the strategic level.11 Army doctrine defines strategic level logistics as the linkage between the US economic base and military forces. Operational logistics is the linking of strategic logistics to the tactical level of war. Last, and most importantly, tactical logistics is the synchronization of all CSS assets to sustain Soldiers and their weapons systems during operations.12

In a theater of war, such as the US Central Command (CENTCOM) theater, Army doctrine calls for the creation of the communications zone (COMMZ), extending from the rear of the combat zone to the continental United States (CONUS), in which strategic logistics will operate. Within the COMMZ, the joint task force commander creates a theater base at which air, land, and sea lines of communications and CSS facilities can be located in relative safety to support combat operations. From this base, operational logistics links national assets to Army tactical units. The base consists of facilities such as aerial and sea ports of debarkation (APODs and SPODs, respectively), staging bases, fixed maintenance and logistics storage facilities, and some CSS unit headquarters.13 When OIF began, Kuwait served as that base, though some CSS operations were also present in Qatar and Bahrain. Kuwait continued to serve as the main CSS base for OIF throughout 2003 and 2004, though a forward base was established near Baghdad because of the long distances involved.

The US Army was not only responsible for its own CSS, it was also required to provide certain categories of support to its US Marine Corps and US Air Force partners in theater. These “Title X” requirements, prescribed by law and regulation, are apportioned to each of the Services based on their unique capabilities for the sake of efficiency. In support of a large operation such as OIF, the senior Army force commander, Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC)/Third Army in this case, made the decision to deploy a full Theater Support Command (TSC) to provide CSS support.‡ The TSC is designed to coordinate Army and national CSS assets in support of a campaign. These assets ranged from tactical CSS companies, battalions, brigades, and civilian contractors to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Red Cross, AMC, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), General Services Administration (GSA), and included host nation assistance.14 Army logisticians also found themselves supplying the military forces provided by the two dozen plus members of the Coalition, each of whom needed logistical support in different areas. Finally, as efforts to reconstruct Iraq and rebuild Iraq’s security forces ramped up in late 2003 and 2004, Army CSS operators inherited those immense responsibilities as well.

The US Army Reserve’s 377th TSC coordinated the overall CSS effort for OIF. The TSC concept was developed in the 1990s in response to the shortcomings identified in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. In 1998 the 377th Theater Army Area Command was redesignated as the 377th TSC, restructured with a general staff, and given the wartime responsibility to provide CSS management to CENTCOM. Made up largely of Reserve Soldiers, the 377th TSC was the Army’s only deployable TSC, the others being the 21st TSC in Europe and the 19th TSC in Korea. The Army Reserve took great pride in this new mission.15

The Army first mobilized the 377th TSC in 2001 to support OEF in Afghanistan, and the command returned to the United States in 2002 only to be mobilized and deployed again to the Middle East for OIF in early 2003. It was commanded by Army Reserve Major General David E. Kratzer and reported to the CFLCC, Third Army, in Kuwait. From Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, it was responsible for the joint logistics support of all Coalition forces including functions such as base operations and security, transportation management, seaport and airport management, and the materiel management of all classes of military supplies.16 Kratzer recounted how the Third Army commander, Lieutenant General David D. McKiernan, told him during an initial planning meeting, “You guys have got to make us succeed. Without you, we can’t succeed. You know, CSS will not win a war, but CSS will sure lose a war.”17

At its peak strength, the 377th TSC controlled 8 general-officer level and 13 colonel-level commands, each responsible for specific CSS functions such as personnel (3d Personnel Command), communications (335th Signal Command), financial management (366th Finance Command), area/base support (43d and 171st Area Support Groups), fuel (49th Quartermaster Group [POL]), and transportation management (3d Theater Army Movement Control Agency). Active Army units served under Reservists in the 377th TSC with Reservists making up 65 percent of the total strength of the command.

Brigadier General Sean Byrne, an Active Duty officer, commanded the Army Reserve’s 3d Personnel Command (PERSCOM). Drawing on lessons learned from DESERT STORM when Soldiers became “lost” in the personnel and medical channels, for the first time personnel managers were placed under the command of a TSC instead of reporting directly back to the United States. Byrne credited that arrangement and the Army’s new digital identification cards and other systems with keeping error rates well under the Army standard of 2 percent.18

An additional and very important benefit of accurate personnel tracking was the improved performance in delivering mail to Soldiers. Getting large amounts of mail delivered promptly to hundreds of thousands of Soldiers in thousands of units whose locations changed on a regular basis was a monumental task. A General Accounting Office report released in 2004 highlighted several problems with mail delivery in theater during the spring and summer of 2003, to include insufficient postal units and mail handling equipment. Many of the problems found were the normal result of the rapid deployment of US forces, the decision to limit CSS forces to the bare minimum, and the inevitable confusion of trying to deliver mail to units on the move from Kuwait to Iraq during Phase III and the transition to Phase IV of the campaign. In 2003 the Military Postal Service Agency and the 3d PERSCOM delivered 65 million pounds of mail to service members and contractors in Iraq, 11 million pounds in April 2003 alone, and an average of 378,000 pounds per day during the year.19

US Army Reserve Brigadier General Jack Stultz commanded the 143d TRANSCOM (in his civilian job, he was the logistical manager for Proctor & Gamble Corporation).20 The 143d took advantage of changes made in 1990 and 1991 to speed up the offloading of equipment at Kuwaiti ports and airfields and the reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) of arriving units. The use of pre-positioned equipment; radio frequency identification (RFID) tags; newer and more numerous heavy equipment and tank transport trucks; and new, large, medium-speed roll-on, roll-off (LMSR) ships improved efficiency by more than 50 percent for the 143d TRANSCOM. The huge backlogs of tens of thousands of unsorted and unidentified cargo containers that clogged Saudi and Kuwaiti ports before the start of Operation DESERT STORM were mostly a thing of the past.21 Though improved technology and management prevented the kind of backlog that literally choked supply lines in 1990 and 1991, the system was not error free. In 2004, a year after the invasion, some 30,000 shipping containers were categorized as “frustrated cargo,” a term that denoted an interruption in the delivery process and meant that units did not receive the equipment and goods dispatched to them.22

Unlike most units that rotated into and out of Iraq on 1-year tours, the 377th TSC has remained in theater since February 2003 as CENTCOM’s theater-level CSS organization. Units and individual Soldiers rotated in and out of the 377th, but the headquarters has remained. Even before the 377th TSC arrived in theater, Army civilians and contractors from the AMC began relocating and preparing pre-positioned equipment in Qatar and Kuwait. AMC was the national-level logistical command for the US Army, providing supply and maintenance support to CSS units in theater by embedding specialized teams in units from brigade to theater Army level.23 In August 2002 Camp Arifjan was opened in southern Kuwait to handle the volume of pre-positioned equipment being downloaded off the Army Pre-positioned Sets–Afloat (APS-3) and Army Pre-positioned Sets–Southwest Asia (APS-5) fleets. Thus, equipment, ammunition, fuel, and supplies for an entire heavy division and supporting units were on the ground in Kuwait when the first units began to deploy in February 2003. Those AMC Logistical Support Elements then became part of the 377th TSC when it arrived in Kuwait to assume theater-level CSS responsibilities for CFLCC.24

A division of the AMC oversaw the use of the LOGCAP process that remained a critical aspect of the CSS concept for OIF. In 2004 over 24,000 contractors, one-third of them US expatriates and the remainder local national civilians, provided services to Army forces in Southwest Asia (OIF and OEF) under LOGCAP. Even larger numbers of contractors (perhaps as many as three times that number) supported the other services, the Iraqi Security Forces, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and later the State Department.25 Some 250 Active Duty and Reserve Component Soldiers and DA civilians in AMC managed the hundreds of individual task orders under the LOGCAP umbrella contract. Those services included food service, base camp support, transportation, laundry and maintenance support, and many others.26 The overall LOGCAP budget for the first 16 months of OIF exceeded $5.2 billion.27 Though not a straight one-for-one substitution, the 24,000 LOGCAP employees freed critical military manpower for other duties and lessened the number of CSS Soldiers needed to support operations.


‡This decision was made in late 2002. When V Corps then became CJTF-7 on 15 June 2003, the Third US Army reverted to its role as the Army Service Component Command (ASCC) for the entire CENTCOM area of operations to include Afghanistan, while CJTF-7 assumed responsibility for all operations in Iraq.


Chapter 12. Logistics and Combat Service Support Operations





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