Logistics: April 18, 2003


Another bunch of unrecognized heroes of the Iraq war were the troops who kept the fighting brigades supplied. The four divisions that did most of the fighting (3rd Mech, 1st Marine, 101 Airborne and British) had up to fifteen brigades moving through Iraq at any one time. These brigades contained only about 60,000 troops, but they had to be supplied for the fight to reach, and conquer, Baghdad. With the fuel, food and ammo carried, a brigade can operate for 2-3 days. So to sustain the action, there has to be a constant flow of supplies to the units. That's a lot of supplies. You need to move several hundred pounds of supplies per man per day to keep a combat brigade going. That's about 1200 large trucks (mostly the eight wheel HEMTTs) delivering stuff to the brigades each day. While the number of supply and support people was quite large (nearly 200,000 military and civilian personnel), the actual number of people moving the stuff was less than 20,000. The principal supply movement unit was the medium transportation company. Each of these units has sixty heavy trucks. In the 1991 war, one of these companies, the 1450th transportation company, racked up an amazing record. The unit transported 7,752,000 gallons of fuel (3100 truckloads using HEMTTs), 385,000 gallons of water (154 truckloads) and 15,945 short tons (160 truckloads) of other supplies. The units trucks covered 689,514 miles in two months of operations supporting the XVIII airborne corps and coalition forces. But the 2003 war was different. In 1991, the ground war was over before the resupply needed became truly heroic. In 2003, the march on Baghdad took three weeks and the brigades had tankers and supply trucks rolling up to the tanks and Bradleys on a daily basis. In the next few months, the details of that effort will emerge. Watch for it, as the quick conquest of Iraq would not have been possible without it. 


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