Army says supplies were never more than a day behind in Iraq
May 21, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — Some soldiers fighting during the peak of combat in Iraq may have been down to their last meal at times, but new supplies always arrived before the cupboard was bare, according to Operation Iraqi Freedom’s senior Army logisticians.
“Yes, we had some spot shortages in different places,” Brig. Gen. Jerome Johnson, director for plans, operations, logistics and readiness in the Army’s G-4, or logistics, division, told Pentagon reporters Monday.
But “no one was [delayed for] more than 24 hours,” Johnson said.
Technology new since Desert Storm allowed logisticians back in the Pentagon to continually track the progress of supplies to the troops as the war went on, and “we really had nothing that concerned us,” Johnson said. “The extended supply lines were expected in the [war] planning.”
As for reports from embedded media that some of the units racing toward Baghdad were at times down to their last Meal Ready to Eat, “We saw that coming,” Johnson said. “Sure there were ups and downs. There are always going to be some glitches. It’s called the fog of war, and that’s the way it is.”
In fact, not only was resupply not a significant problem during the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, “but the speed we were able to project logistics forward on the battlefield … was a big win,” Brig. Gen. Jack Stultz said in a Monday televideo linkup with Pentagon reporters from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Stultz did say that the “stretched battlefield” presented a challenge to logisticians, especially because “the maneuver forces were moving so quickly.
“The good news is that we never ran out of fuel and food,” Stultz said, “even though in some cases we got to [the forward-deployed forces] on the last day of supply.”
For the Iraq war, military logisticians used a new technology called Blue Force Tracking, a satellite-based movement tracking system that pinpoints and constantly updates the movement of all friendly combat forces.
Although Army officials accelerated the fielding of the tracking system specifically for Operation Iraqi Freedom, “we did not have that fully fielded for this operation,” Stultz said.
But those logistics units that were equipped with the satellite-guided tracking boxes found them extremely useful.
“I, for one, will be pushing” for Blue Force Tracking systems to be installed aboard all supply transports in the future, Stultz said.