Logistics: Cache Wars


October13, 2006: Although it doesn't get the media attention that hunting down terrorists does, an important goal of Coalition and Iraqi army operations is to find and secure weapons caches. There are a surprisingly large number of stockpiles of arms, ammo, and supplies scattered across Iraq, and not just in areas where the terrorists are strong. These are not just there for logistical purposes. Weapons caches play an role in terrorist tactics.

Developing covert stockpiles of arms and equipment improves insurgent freedom of action. Stockpiles can be built up slowly, so as not to attract attention. A single man, moving one or two items at a time every day or so, over several months, can build-up a respectable arsenal. Once an arms cache is established, it can be used to supply fighters if an attack opportunity develops. A cache might exist in an area for a long time, unused and undetected. When terrorist leaders decide that an attack should be staged in an area, they can arrange to infiltrate unarmed personnel. Despite travel controls and check-points, it's not too hard to move around rather openly in Iraq, using official or forged papers, on legitimate pretexts. Once the terrorist personnel arrive in the vicinity of an arms cache, they can be issued weapons, make an attack, and then disappear.

So capturing arms caches is not merely of logistical importance, but plays a valuable role in suppressing terrorist operations. Saddam Hussein bought enormous quantities of Russian weapons and munitions, and left much of it scattered all over central Iraq. A lot of this stuff was looted after the 2003 invasion, and the terrorists, using more of Saddam's stolen oil money, bought a lot of it to support terrorist activities, and the attempt to restore Saddam, or some other Sunni Arab, to power.


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