Iraqi Forces Gaining in Logistics Capability
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2006 As the Iraqi security forces grow in number and capability, so too does the logistical support system that will sustain them, the commander of 3rd U.S. Army Corps Support Command told Pentagon reporters today from Balad, Iraq.
Army Brig. Gen. Rebecca S. Halstead reported progress in building the Iraqis' logistics capability - ensuring that the proverbial "tail" can support the "teeth" of the fighting force.
The 3rd COSCOM, deployed to Logistics Support Area Anaconda from its Weisbaden, Germany, headquarters, is carrying out its traditional logistics support mission for U.S. forces at more than 50 bases in Iraq and Kuwait.
But at the same time, it's conducting an equally critical mission: teaching the Iraqis to do the same, Halstead said.
COSCOM troops are training 800-man Iraqi motorized transportation regiments, three already up and running and one to come on line later this month, Halstead said.
Their goal is to train eight MTRs by the year's end, with British troops training a ninth regiment, Halstead said. That will ensure one MTR for each division, not including Iraq's mechanized division, which doesn't need one, she said.
MTR training begins after Iraqi soldiers complete individual training and their units are 85 percent manned and equipped, she explained. Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq handles the equipping. "And we're seeing great progress in that," Halstead said.
Building on skills already built, the MTR training focuses on "everything from transportation operations to maintenance to force protection to soldier discipline," she said.
By spring 2007, all nine MTRs are expected to be assigned to Iraqi maneuver divisions. "Our goal is to bring them to a higher level of readiness in preparation for them being assigned to their Iraqi army division," Halstead said.
Meanwhile, the COSCOM is providing technical assistance and support to Taji National Depot regional support units that provide maintenance and supply support. The focus there is on conducting warehousing operations, developing systems for ordering parts, supplies and other requirements and prioritizing missions. The training also addresses the big picture, "coordinating the distribution to support army units and sustain their readiness," Halstead said.
The general expressed enthusiasm about how the training is proceeding. During the past several months alone, the Iraqis, with U.S. help, have moved more than 1,000 pieces of equipment, she noted.
But equally inspiring, she said, is the heart the Iraqis are showing as tackle the logistics challenge. "I am so moved by their courage to serve in their armed forces," she said. "And the gratitude which they show us for assisting them in this effort to facilitate democracy is always ... moving."
As the training mission moves forward, the 3rd COSCOM's day-to-day mission of supporting U.S. and coalition troops on the ground continues.
Each day, the command's members run more than 120 combat logistics patrols, produce more than 7 million gallons of water and distribute more than 1 million gallons of fuel, 9 million short tons of ammunition and 80,000 cases of water, Halstead said. "That's a day," she said, for emphasis.
The command recently started producing water at a second water bottling plant in Iraq, reducing the number of trucks and drivers it needs to put on the road, she said.
The Air Force has been a solid partner in the logistics support mission, moving 16,000 pallets by air during March alone and reducing the need for ground movement, she said.
Halstead also acknowledged the contributions of civilian contractors and Army Materiel Command's civilian work force supporting the massive logistics mission in Iraq. In addition to maintaining and armoring vehicles, they also field new equipment, in addition to other missions, she said.
"None of us operate solely, independently," she said. "Our success is clearly a team effort."
And success, as Halstead defines it, "means not putting more trucks on the road" and subjecting troops to the risk of improvised explosive devices and other attacks. Her command has a good track record in terms of safety, not losing a soldier to enemy fire since late October.