Artillery: October 26, 2004

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About a third of the attacks on American troops in Iraq are roadside bombs, another 15-20 percent are ambushes with rifles, machine-guns and RPG rockets, as vehicles go by. There are plenty of targets for these attacks, which account for half the "combat" in Iraq.  Every day, Over 5,000 troops hit the road in about 2,500 vehicles, formed into about 250 convoys. Much of what is transported is liquid. For example, each day sees a million gallons of fuel and 110,000 cases of bottled water being moved. Even on days with the greatest number of attacks, less than 20 percent of the convoys are attacked. And most of these attacks result in no American casualties. American drivers know that the best reaction to enemy fire is to increase speed and get out of there.

During the first 16 months operations in Iraq, there were 175,000 convoy operations (including combat and non-combat operations). The number of convoys has been reduced over time, by putting more vehicles in each convoy, and because the building of bases has been completed and not as much stuff has to be moved around. 

The most dangerous cargo is fuel. About ten percent of the trucks on the road each day are hauling fuel. When fuel has to be moved through a hot zone (where a lot of attacks have occurred), it is heavily escorted by ground vehicles and aircraft (usually helicopters and UAVs.) For these operations, everyone is on their toes and alert for anything suspicious. These convoys usually pass off without incident, and if something does happen, there is plenty of help on hand to take care of it. Still, theres only one casualty (dead or wounded) for every 21 convoys. Thus most convoys, while nerve wracking, dont get you killed or wounded.

 


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