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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


Munitions Support

In OIF, ordnance support related to munitions can be divided into three parts. The first two are doctrinal, having to do with the provision of ammunition and demolition systems to Army units and the locating and destruction of unexploded munitions on the battlefield to safeguard Army Soldiers. The third ordnance mission soon became the most visible as the insurgency developed in Iraq: the locating and defeating of IEDs and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).

As Phase IV of OIF began, US and Coalition units began to grapple with the enormous number and variety of arms and ammunition sites located throughout Iraq. Coalition forces found over 10,000 stockpiles, ranging in size from small caches in schools, mosques, and other civilian buildings to gigantic military depots measured by the square mile including hundreds of individual bunkers. After the overthrow of the Baathist regime in April 2003, ordinary Iraqis and future insurgents alike looted many of these stockpiles. The enormity of the task soon overwhelmed the small number of unexploded ordnance demolition units in Iraq, whose time was better spent focusing on the anti-IED mission. Major General Wojdakowski, CJTF-7 deputy commander, quickly realized the task of locating, storing, and disposing these stockpiles was far beyond his command’s ability to handle, and would take the limited number of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units away from supporting tactical operations.108 In July 2003 the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was tasked with the mission of collecting, sorting (usable stocks were provided to the Iraqi Security Forces), and destroying these huge stockpiles, estimated to total some 400,000 tons of unexploded ordnances (UXOs). The USACE awarded contracts to five civilian firms to conduct the work that began in September 2003. Some 2,600 contractors destroyed over 450,000 tons of munitions in 3 years.109

CJTF-7’s combat units also took part in the process, particularly as they initially occupied their AOs in the summer of 2003. Every division and brigade was confronted with the tasks of finding, guarding, and turning over these stockpiles for destruction. The 1st Armored Division (1st AD) was responsible for the city of Baghdad and the surrounding areas beginning in early May 2003 and faced perhaps the largest UXO inventory in Iraq. 1st AD Soldiers encountered UXOs and weapons and ammunition caches every day of their entire 15-month stay in Iraq. But in the summer of 2003, the size and number of these caches stunned the division. The division artillery brigade formed TF Bullet to handle the tasks of finding and disposing of the immense stockpiles accrued by the Saddam regime. The division also launched Operations CLEAN SWEEP and IRON BULLET, which focused solely on collecting and removing the vast stores of weapons and ammunition.

During their first 12 months in Iraq, TF Bullet removed over 2,050 truckloads of UXOs, arms, and ammunition, totaling almost 10,000 tons. The division engineers also removed 1,113 individual UXOs and 1,265 caches of arms and weapons. In total, 1st AD disposed of more than 55 million rounds of ammunition and 1 million items of UXOs and arms. Some of the arms and ammunition were still usable and was transferred to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC), including 16,620 rifles and pistols; 1,935 RPG launchers; and more than 320,000 grenades, RPG, and artillery rounds.110

Chapter 12. Logistics and Combat Service Support Operations

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