Bullets, ‘ballet’: All in a day for 37th Transportation’s convoys
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — It’s the “Swan Lake” of logistics ballets.
Orchestrating, organizing and tracking as many as 3,050 trucks and 80 convoys a day through Kuwait and Iraq is a task that falls on the brigade-level 37th Transportation Group out of Kaiserslautern, Germany.
The task becomes more complicated by the fact that the convoys are traveling roads notorious for improvised bombs and some are covering distances equivalent to the mileage between Washington, D.C., and Dallas.
So what does it take to pull off the mission when 84 convoys are scattered around Iraq and Kuwait on a single day?
“A lot of delegation and leadership,” said Col. Michael H. MacNeil, commander of the 37th Transportation Group. “You have squad leaders leading platoon-size convoys and doing a bang-up job.”
From flatbed trucks to the massive Heavy Equipment Transporter, the convoys ferry everything from food and ammunition to tanks into Iraq from Kuwait.
On average, the 37th Transportation Group, known in Germany as the 37th Transportation Command, has 1,700 trucks and 50 convoys on the road each day. Since August, soldiers in units under the 37th Transportation Group have logged almost 35 million miles behind the wheel.
Being on the road that much exposes the convoys to enemy attack. On average, two attacks occur a day against convoys under command and control of the brigade. Twenty-five percent of the soldiers under the 37th Transportation Group — about 1,400 — have earned their Combat Action Badge.
“They’re out there mixing it up,” MacNeil said. “They’re pretty proud of it.”
On the battalion level, Logistics Task Force 28 out of Mannheim, Germany, currently has two field artillery batteries out of Fort Sill, Okla. — the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment and the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment — underneath it that perform HET missions. At one time, the battalion had six units underneath it with nearly 1,700 soldiers. During this deployment, the 28th Transportation Battalion is known as Logistics Task Force 28.
Units underneath the battalion recently transported equipment for 1st Armored Division troops deploying to Iraq from Kuwait. While the transportation units are based in Kuwait, nearly all of their missions are in Iraq, said Lt. Col. Stephen E. Farmen, commander of LTF 28.
Since the battalion arrived in August, it has been responsible for the movement of more than 16,000 pieces of equipment in support of the war in Iraq.
From late August to early March, convoys under LTF 28 have been attacked more than 90 times. Soldiers in LTF 28 have earned 32 Bronze Stars, 80 Meritorious Service Medals, 15 Purple Hearts and 447 Combat Action Badges.
“We have had our share of valor and wounded in action,” Farmen said.
Missions the convoys complete without attack are not mere coincidence, Farmen said.
“Whenever we have a night that’s quiet, it’s not just dumb luck,” he said. “Our soldiers are doing the right thing to avoid being hit.”