Army General: Air Force Helped Logistics Success in Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 22, 2005 The U.S. military's task to supply troops serving in Iraq over the past year "was one of the most complex and challenging missions in our history," a senior Army general told Senate members here April 20.
Yet, logisticians "proved successful in supporting a force of approximately 165,000 soldiers, airmen, Marines, and civilians serving in a country the size of California," Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz told members of the Senate Readiness and Management Subcommittee.
Metz, who recently returned stateside after a year's posting as commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, is the commander of the Army's 3rd Corps at Fort Hood, Texas.
The three-star general said supply specialists in Iraq "distributed an average of 1.2 million gallons of fuel, 55,000 cases of bottled water, 13,000 cases of meals ready to eat, 60 short tons of ammunition, and 200 pallets of repair parts" each day to U.S. forces during his tour.
Yet, Metz recalled a time early in his tour when the logistics pipeline in Iraq didn't operate so smoothly. In April 2004 insurgents staged attacks throughout Iraq and targeted U.S. supply centers and truck convoy routes, he said.
Supply specialists reacted quickly and shifted "from a centralized distribution system to decentralized regional hubs," Metz said. This change increased supply-system flexibility and "helped us to better assess civilian convoy routes on the battlefield and avoid risk when possible through the highest threat areas," he said.
Another lesson learned, Metz said, was that military logisticians on convoy duty in Iraq "must have the training, confidence and weapons skills to conduct supply missions."
Metz also highlighted "the Air Force's contribution to the safety and success of our resupply efforts" in Iraq. The implementation of aerial supply routes in some high-threat regions "helped keep approximately 40 additional trucks off the road per day" and kept "at least 80 soldiers" out of harm's way on a daily basis, he said.
The use of aerial resupply also facilitated delivery of needed repair parts and other items from the United States "directly to remote locations like Quyarrah West and al Taqaddum," Metz said.
The general said that daily patrol requirements and engagements with the enemy in Iraq caused "massive logistics requirements during the deployment." Yet, supply centers in the U.S., Germany and Kuwait "did a tremendous job in supporting the corps," he said.
As the MNCI commander, Metz said, he "was pleased and proud of the monumental logistics operations and accomplishments during our deployment."