Kuwait Unit Supporting Warfighters Throughout Theater
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Dec. 6, 2005 Experience has enabled officials here to provide key training, logistics and planning support to warfighters in the U.S. Central Command area of operations with fewer troops, a senior officer here told American Forces Press Service.
"The theater is maturing," said Army Col. Roderick Cox, Coalition Forces Land Component Command chief of staff here. "We are finding better, less troop-intensive ways of doing business."
Since the beginning of operations in Iraq, "the U.S. military footprint in Kuwait has dropped by 40 percent," Cox said. The colonel did not speak of specific numbers of Americans in Kuwait for security reasons.
The news is welcome because fewer troops mean the deployment pressures on U.S. military personnel are lessened and it frees up U.S. military personnel for other missions. The effort centered here is extensive. Kuwait is the major sea and air port of entry to and exit from Iraq for U.S. and coalition personnel. The command handles all arrangements for getting U.S. military personnel and their equipment into the theater. "It is a complicated process to get the units here and marry them up with their equipment," Cox said. "And the scale is large also. Over the next year, we will move 300,000 people and all their necessities into and out of Kuwait." Some of these moves are deployments and redeployments. Others are rest and relaxation flights for servicemembers.
In addition, Kuwait provides an "opportunity training venue" for units arriving in the region. Command officials can schedule units to run through Udairi Range, in northwestern Kuwait. There they can use a specially built 11-kilometer-long road, complete with underpasses and overpasses, to practice convoy operations and to practice new methods against improvised explosive devices, Cox said.
Other ranges on the complex allow troops to practice handling checkpoints and dealing with civilians on the battlefield and to learn the latest tactics, techniques and procedures used against improvised explosive devices and car bombs. "We don't want our people to see things for the first time in Iraq," Cox said. "The range is connected in with experts in Iraq and back in the United States to ensure servicemembers are receiving the best and latest training."
Almost all supplies, from oil to food to spare parts, move through Kuwait into Iraq and, to a lesser extent, to Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. The command moves everything servicemembers need to survive and prosper in Iraq. It also handles maintenance and replacement of vehicles and weapons systems.
The command also helps plan for contingencies in the region, Cox said. While officials do much of this planning at the command's stateside headquarters at Fort McPherson, Ga., experts in Kuwait help plan operations such as the U.S. mission to get needed humanitarian supplies to Pakistan.
The military is now able to downsize its footprint in Kuwait for a number of reasons. Automation and better control of items allow fewer people to do more work. U.S. officials working with Kuwaiti allies have consolidated bases in the country, Cox said. A portion of Camp Doha in Kuwait City, for example, will close in the next few weeks, with the additional areas closing by the end of 2006.
Finally, the American military does not need the same number of personnel because the processes and procedures in Kuwait have matured. Setting up operations is labor-intensive, Cox said. Maintaining them does not require the same level of personnel. The command also has contracted out many jobs formerly performed by American servicemembers, Cox said.
In addition, many of the American command and staff personnel in Kuwait wear multiple "hats." Many perform both service-specific duties and Coalition Forces Land Component Command duties.
Kuwait, which is a major non-NATO U.S. ally, has helped enormously, the colonel said. "Kuwait is a good and gracious ally and host," he said. The country continues to look for ways to help the American effort in the region. "To do this without them would be much harder," Cox said.
The command will continue to look for ways to reduce uniformed military personnel while maintaining the same high level of service, the colonel said.