Camp Anaconda / FOB Anaconda
Logistics Support Activity (LSA; sometimes referred to incorrectly as a Life Sustainment Area) Anaconda was a large US base near Balad Air Base (and the US facility Joint Base Balad), spread over 15 square miles. The facility was also referred to first as Camp Anaconda, then Forward Operating Base (FOB) Anaconda, and then Contingency Operating Base (COB) Anaconda. Nearby was FOB O'Ryan, previously known as FOB Lion, located about 5 miles away. Although smaller than LSA Anazonda, FOB O'Ryan had good internet and phone services available among other amenities.
As of March 2003, the 4,000 troops in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division had 9 forward operating bases spread across 1,500 square miles of Iraq north of Baghdad, from Samarra to Taji. The headquarters was at LSA Anaconda, a logistics support area about 12 miles from FOB Eagle.
An engineer company from the Florida Army National Guard, attached to V Corps, made a major contribution to the Corps' efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom by rebuilding a former Iraqi aviation academy into a logistics hub near Balad Air Base that was operated by the Corps's 3rd Corps Support Command. The 269th Engineer Company from Live Oak, Florida ran an asphalt facility on the base and did all the paving needed to improve the new LSA's day-to-day operations. Asphalt was a flexible pavement that was more cost effective than concrete, required less manpower and held up better without cracking. Originally the Army, in its quest to put as many operations as possible into Iraqi hands, wanted locals to fulfill the base's asphalt needs, but when they were unable to meet the demand, the Florida soldiers took over.
The soldiers of the 269th arrived in May 2003, and brought its asphalt facility there from Kuwait in July 2003. In the interim they kept busy with a variety of odd jobs. It took 8 days to set up, and its use there marked the first time the plant had been put into operation since it was first established in Florida 10 years ago. The facility could make up to 150 tons of asphalt an hour, but rarely worked at that high of output.
By June 2003 LSA Anaconda offered very little in the way of modern conveniences as it was still in its infant stages of development. All the tents were up and all workstations are operational. Although the Army had only been there a few weeks, troops of the 211th Military Police Battalion had already done much to support force protection efforts in and around the Area of Operation. House raids and arrests with the Military Police included use of 3 Abrams tanks. The fighting occurred in an area of central Iraq known as the "Sunni Triangle".
On the night of 3 July 2003, American forces were attacked in 2 separate incidents in Balad, 90 kilometers north-west of Baghdad. The well-coordinated ambushes led to 18 American soldiers being injured and left 11 Iraqi fighters dead. The attacks involved typical guerilla weapons, such as machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as a new element, highly accurate mortars. These could be fired from as far away as 6.5 kilometers. In one attack on a highway near Balad, US soldiers were ambushed 3 times over a span of 8 hours by about 50 enemies lying in wait in trenches and behind earthen berms on both sides of the highway. The guerillas were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. Previously, most attacks on American forces in Iraq had involved smaller groups of gunmen.
Less than 2 hours before the first ambush, 4 mortar rounds were fired into the grounds of Camp Anaconda. A total of 16 soldiers were wounded in a mortar attack against the logistics post near Balad, Iraq on 3 July 2003. Two of the soldiers, all members of the 4th Infantry Division, were evacuated from the area and were in stable condition. The rest were treated and released. This was the first instance of a mortar attack against US troops since President Bush declared an end to major combat on 1 May 2003.
A dental clinic opened at the US Army Baghdad Hospital in Baghdad 5 July 2003 to provide standard dental treatment to soldiers in the area. The dental clinic was located in what used to be Saddam Hussein's personal medical treatment facility. A 6-man team was sent from the 561st Medical Company at Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, to start a dental clinic for the soldiers in Baghdad.
Iraqi insurgents dropped mortar rounds on an American military supply depot in a 7 July 2003 night attack, according to the Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) spokesman. There were no American casualties. The depot was located near Balad, which was more than 50 miles north of the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad. Twelve suspects were detained after the depot attack.
By late September 2003, Iraqis were assisting 3rd Corps Support Command soldiers in keeping LSA Anaconda in Balad safe. A security patrol was trained to assist guards at the front gate of the installation. These guards conducted pre-inspections before civilian non-tactical vehicles entered the gate of LSA Anaconda. The volunteers were mostly former Iraqi soldiers. Training included elements of drill and ceremony, necessary commands, voice inflections and taking charge of situations. The focus remains on the proper procedures for searching vehicles. Instead of focusing on how to guard the installation, they concentrated on recognizing when something is out of the ordinary, identifying objects out of place, and taking command of situations when something did not seem right.
By June 2004, most troops stationed at LSA Anaconda had moved into trailer complexes. These trailers were obtained from local manufacturers and there were hundreds arranged in rows. Most were single-wide traileres separated into 2 or 3 parts known in the slang as "hootches." Usually 2 soldiers were assigned to each hootch. Air conditioning was provided by individual units mounted in windows. In addition, 5 cafeteria-style dining facilities were run on the post by civilian contractors. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight dinner were served. A variety of food was served including hot meals, fresh fruit, and beverages. A post exchange was also operated so soldiers could buy canned goods and snacks.
For entertainment, LSA Anaconda had 2 swimming pools, which were built by Iraqis before the war. Also, a first-run 35-mm indoor movie theater showed 3 free movies a day. The theater was huge, and was one of the most hardened structures on the base, providing one of the best sanctuarys on base during mortar attacks. There was also a fitness gym operated on base. Those who ran or jogged for exercise had 3 choices: the added weight of a flak vest and helmet, the gymnasium's treadmills, or the track, where they could run in circles after leaving their vests in the center of the infield. Religious services were provided by military chaplains, and there were smaller events run by individual soldiers or units. Soldiers at LSA Anaconda had the opportunity for language and cultural familiarity classes to learn basic Arabic phrases and customs. An on-base combat stress clinic provides counseling and support for soldiers.
As of June 2004, the 181st Support Battalion ran a health clinic on the post that treated most illnesses and also provided dental and eye services. More serious injuries were referred to the post hospital, with trauma patients being evacuated to Europe.
LSA Anaconda, the largest support base in Iraq, was reportedly nicknamed "Mortaritaville" because of the frequency of mortar/rocket attacks on the base. As of mid-October 2004, an article in the Seattle Times reported the facility, home to roughly 22,500 US troops and an additional 2,500 contractors, had been on the receiving end of roughly 2 attacks daily since July 2004. Public affairs officials said they had a tough time convincing reporters in Baghdad to venture to the camp that served as the major hub for coalition convoy operations. The weather added a further factor. Camp Anaconda was known for its intense heat, with most days in the summer well above 100 degrees, and swirling dust that only added to the misery of carrying a 5-pound helmet and 30-pound jacket, which soldiers in Camp Anaconda were required to do. This was an order few other coalition camps have to follow.
Consolidation was happening at Anaconda as it transformed from a Forward Operating Base (FOB) concept to a Contingency Operating Base (COB). That was why the 69th was running cable at Anaconda. The 69th's cable dogs were installing a variety of cables for different kinds of communication systems. The 69th's soldiers were removing tactical communication lines and installing more permanent cable lines. The job was to put in miles of fiber cable to create a way to connect a variety of communication systems that is a critical infrastructure. A large concrete pad had been poured on which a tall communication tower was to be erected, another sign of permanency. These new systems were being installed at Camp Anaconda and 2 other locations, where some of the company had soldiers from 1st and 2nd platoons. The names of the other 2 bases have not been released.
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