3rd Corps Support Command Delivers Goods for OIF Forces
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2004 If the men and women serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom have it, chances are they got it from the 3rd Corps Support Command.
At a news conference today in Baghdad that was beamed to the Pentagon press corps, Army Brig. Gen. Vincent E. Boles explained to reporters that the unit he commands is responsible for getting Combined Joint Task Force 7 forces the things they need.
If the troops in Iraq "eat it, drive it, move it, drink it, fly it or wear it, we're responsible for getting it to them," the general said.
The 3rd Corps Support Command, normally based at Wiesbaden, Germany, has been delivering the goods to Operation Iraqi Freedom forces for a year. Its 15,000 members make up 10 percent of CJTF 7. They include National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers from throughout the United States, Boles said, that have joined the unit's active contingent in Iraq. The command's normal size at Wiesbaden, he added, is 4,000 soldiers.
In its year of service in Iraq, Boles said, the command has issued more than 53 million meals, almost 8 million pieces of mail, 186 million gallons of fuel, 330 million gallons of water and 4.5 million cases of bottled water.
Maintenance of equipment also relies on the unit, which has handled 100,000 maintenance work orders and 4.3 million requisitions for parts needed for equipment repairs, the general said.
To put those numbers in perspective, Boles gave reporters a series of comparisons:
The unit has provided enough food to feed three meals a day to the people of Springfield, Mo., for a year. Springfield's population equates to the number of troops assigned in Iraq.
Fuel the unit delivers every day would fill the tanks of 40,000 cars.
Water deliveries would fill 3.2 million 1-liter bottles, enough for a daily shower for 500,000 residents of Las Vegas.
Boles said the unit also repairs a daily average of 400 pieces of equipment.
Covering an area of responsibility that stretches from the Turkish border to Kuwait puts some serious miles on the unit's vehicles. With more than 2,000 trucks on the road on any given day, the command has logged more than 26 million miles in Iraq the equivalent of 8,700 trips from New York to San Francisco.
Standing the Iraqi railroad back up has been a benefit, Boles said, as the unit has made more than 350 rail movements in the past six months. The unit has moved 210,000 tons of equipment by rail, which Boles likened to 35 days of a passenger-train run from Boston to Washington.
Flights into and out of Iraqi airfields have totaled 8,800, enough to duplicate 20 days of operations for Los Angeles International Airport.
Boles provided a historical perspective on the 3rd Corps Support Command's accomplishments in Iraq by drawing comparisons to the movement of forces during World War II in Europe.
"They went from Normandy to Berlin about 756 miles and it took them 11 months to do that," he said. "We operated over that distance in four weeks."
Boles said the challenges posed in Iraq have helped to evolve the support structure. More soldiers now eat in contract dining facilities instead of living on field rations and get four bottles of water per day instead of the two issued before experience helped to refine the delivery system. The evolution also has accelerated delivery of new-style body armor to soldiers in Iraq and added contract trucks to the Army-owned vehicles that had bore the entire brunt of operations earlier, he said.
The unit has also faced challenges from the environment, from the sheer time- and-distance requirements of its mission, and from what Boles described as "an adaptive enemy."
"We've had to adapt and learn ourselves," Boles said. "We've been able to do that."
Boles said the unit is intent on "building a better future together" with the Iraqi people. "We've spent $2.8 million to help 12,000 at 121 schools," he said.
The command also has helped four Iraqi hospitals get set up and running, and also stood up an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps battalion. The general called the unit's interactions with the Iraqi people "a labor of love."
"Just simply put soldiers with children, and the right things seem to happen," he said. "It's just magical. It seems to bring out the best of both of us."