319th CSB keeps supplies moving in Iraq
Stars and Stripes November 22, 2004
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Iraq — If there is an enduring image of this war, it may be that of the supply convoy, a parade of trucks and their protective Humvees rolling across the desert landscape.
All armies require supplies; the constant care and feeding of those troops can be a dangerous affair.
Suicide car bombs, roadside bombs and ambushes are as much a part of cross-country travel in Iraq as mechanical breakdowns, flat tires and dust storms.
Yet, for all that, the amount of stuff transported from point to point is staggering.
On any given day in Iraq, the country is crisscrossed by 200 to 250 convoys, roughly 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles.
They carry the nourishment necessary for an army at war, whether it is bottled water to keep the troops rolling or grease and oil to do the same for vehicles.
The Corps Distribution Center at LSA Anaconda is a central point in this effort. On an 85-acre piece of ground, the 319th Corps Support Battalion receives, separates and pushes onward everything moving through the theater except ammunition. Clothes, oil, rations — you name it, the CDC handles it.
“If the soldier wears it, eats it or uses it to fix something, it’s going to come across this yard,” said Maj. Brian McMurry, support operations officer for the 319th CSB, which is part of the 13th Corps Support Command.
When the supplies arrive by ground or air at the CDC, they are segregated according to the forward destination. Empty flat bed trucks await their load in lanes set aside to represent a particular part of the country.
The pallets are removed from one trailer and carried by forklift to another, which will eventually take them to their final destination.
“The intent is, the cargo never hits the ground,” McMurry said.
Prior to the 319th CSB’s arrival in February, the supplies were removed from one truck and put on the ground to await further movement. The 319th CSB changed that.
“It would sit there three days,” McMurry said. “Right now, it sits here 12 to 18 hours. The less time the cargo sits here, the happier we are.”
Still, the CDC has to maintain a stockpile of important items. None may be more important in this environment than water. On Wednesday, 450,000 cases of water were on hand — “a sea of water,” McMurry said.
In the hot summer months, the CDC held as many as 800,000 cases.
Cases of MREs numbered 200,000 on this day.
But as the 13th Corps Support Command prepares to bid farewell to Iraq in a few weeks, a few cumulative numbers are in order. McMurry supplied them.
The CDC has put out 1 million pounds of cargo daily since March 4, averaging 200 trucks being processed a day.
It has issued 32.4 million bottles of water, 12.1 million MREs and 2.9 million UGRs — Unitized Group Rations.
The work is done by 58 soldiers and 80 contract workers for KBR, working 24 hours a day, rain, shine or mortar attack.
One of those soldiers, Spc. Adam Thomas, said, “It can almost seem overwhelming.”
In one corner of the CDC is the Material Redistribution Section, sort of like the lost letter section at a post office. Here sits the supplies without a home, stuff that arrived at the CDC without a proper address.
“It’s the land of misfit toys,” McMurry said.
Helicopter engines and toolboxes and other lost items sit on the ground. McMurry said the good news is, most of it will be placed.
The stock numbers and parts numbers on most items will at least get them forwarded to a place that needs them, even if that is not the original destination.
McMurry will soon be leaving, so he will miss out on the future improvements to the CDC. A 120-acre site on LSA Anaconda is being readied to become the new CDC, scheduled to be in use sometime next spring.
Asphalt will replace gravel, the major said, which will protect the supplies and the workers from the dust. The lighting will be improved.
A warehouse 420 feet on each side and 50 feet high will hold rations. Now, McMurry said, rations are kept in containers and the heat of the desert degrades them. The warehouse will hold them in a more climate-controlled environment.
The “yard of tomorrow,” as he calls it, will be able to process 400 trucks daily, an increase from the 250 processed daily now.
Although this yard sits on a base that is attacked daily by rockets or mortars, it does seem far from the fight. McMurry said he reinforces often to the troops that their work has an impact on the battlefield.
“I try to keep it fresh in their minds the importance of what they do,” he said.
Spc. Emanuel Fletcher, who processes trucks when they arrive, said he knows his work is linked to the warfighter.
“If we can’t get the supplies to them …” he said, not finishing, knowing the answer is obvious.