U.S.: Saudis helped rapid flow of weapons, supplies in Iraq War

Thursday, June 12, 2003

For the first time, the United States has supplied details of Saudi Arabian help during the war against Iraq.

U.S. officials said the Saudi kingdom allowed the use of its ports and bases for the U.S.-led war in Iraq in March and April. They said the Saudi help facilitated the rapid flow of weapons and material to the front lines in Iraq.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Boles detailed the Saudi help during a briefing from Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. Boles, of Army Material Command's Logistics Support Element in Iraq, said the use of Saudi ports and other bases allowed the advancement of front-line troops toward Baghdad.

Boles said Saudi Arabia allowed the U.S. military to use three ports in the kingdom. The general said the use of the ports ensured the rapid off-loading of ships that transported supplies and weapons.

Brig. Gen. Jack Stulz, deputy commander of the 377th Transportation Support Command, said the use of Saudi ports compensated for the much more limited facilities in neighboring Kuwait. Stulz said the distance from Saudi ports to the frontline was about 600 kilometers.

The distance from Kuwaiti ports to Iraq was 75 kilometers. Kuwait has only one Kuwait commercial shipping port.

But the distance from Kuwaiti ports to the front lines in Iraq then increased to 600 kilometers as U.S. troops advanced toward Baghdad. Stulz said the continued flow of vehicles, ammunition and supplies was a major element in the defeat of the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The generals said the military employed the prepositioning of equipment in the March campaign, something it did not do in the 1991 Gulf war. They said the U.S. Army stored enough vehicles and supplies to field five brigade-sized units.

Another difference was that in the latest war against Iraq, the U.S. military kept no more than seven days of supplies on hand. The generals said this required the steady flow of supplies.

"We didn't build mountains," Stulz said. "We moved it and smoothed it out much like you do in civilian business."

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