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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 4: Combat Service Support
Topic A: Supply the Force

Subtopic 5: Providing Bulk Fuel to the Iraqi Civilian Population

Observation Synopsis

Coalition Forces (CF) have been working hard to create a management approach to bulk fuel intended for foreign national use. Prior to CF operations in theater, Iraqi bulk fuel assets were managed with a centralized style, having all decision and direction provided from the Ministry of Oil (MO) located in Baghdad. It provided local operation managers one source that all could blame, and it was the standard practice to blame all shortages, errors, and mismanagement on the MO. Since CF assumed oversight and a shared local management, a decentralized approach to fuel assets has proven far more successful. Decisions are made independently by local Iraqi fuel managers, forcing greater assumption of responsibility. Project development is emerging and future operations are a greater consideration in their decision-making process. As Iraqi managerial autonomy emerges, foreign national backsliding into former operational management style is of great concern.

Tracking of bulk fuel from Iraqi refineries and distribution companies is a difficult challenge due to inadequate tracking mechanisms and extensive smuggling conducted by organized crime. Since coalition forces have taken control of Iraqi infrastructure, refined petroleum-based products have been restricted from export. Iraqi drivers are diverting mass quantities of refined products such as benzene, kerosene, and diesel to Iran and surrounding countries. The primary means of illegal export are the road tanker, converted pick-up trucks, buses, fishing boats, and small barges which can easily slip through border patrols. Once across the border, traffickers transfer the fuel products to middle-men who sell the products making a profit increase five times the original price. In other cases, falsified documentation is produced which allows traffickers to justify the "loss."

Lessons Learned

  • Since Coalition Forces have assumed oversight of bulk fuel provided to the civilian population from the MO, a more decentralized management style has emerged and has successfully encouraged more assumption of responsibility by local managers.
  • As management autonomy by Iraqi nationals emerges, a return to the familiarity of a centralized approach is of concern.
  • Coalition forces have limited capability to track the illegal trafficking of large quantities of fuel across the borders of Iraq.
  • Most escorted convoys are making deliveries without any problem or corruption. Unescorted convoys are a risk for smuggling activities and illegal sell of fuel to private gas stations.
  • Continue bulk fuel management oversight, ensuring successful decentralized approach.

DOTMLPF Implications

Doctrine: An improved system to track every fuel movement from refineries to distribution centers needs to be developed. The tracking system should not interfere with eventual Iraqi management. Manifest documentation needs an improved validation process to prevent falsification.

Iraqi Bulk Fuel Tankers at a distribution point
Iraqi Bulk Fuel Tankers at a distribution point

Confiscated Iraqi Tankers used for fuel smuggling
Confiscated Iraqi Tankers used for fuel smuggling

Table of Supporting Observations

Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
Providing Bulk Fuel to the Iraqi Civilian Population 10001-64835
Civilian Iraqi Bulk Fuel Management from a Coalition Perspective 10000-05841

Table of Contents
Chapter 4-Topic A-Subtopic 4: Supply Support Activity (SSA) Support in OIF
Chapter 4-Topic B: Maintain the Force

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