Army report details Iraq War's logistics and supplies problems

Monday, March 29, 2004

The U.S. Army has acknowledged serious supply problems during the war in Iraq.

An army report said the logistics and supply problem became so great that soldiers did not have enough ammunition during the first three weeks of the invasion of Iraq. The report said bureaucratic problems and misassessments led to the halt in the supply of ammunition and vital equipment.

The 293-page report was drafted by the army's 3rd Infantry Division, which carried out the brunt of fighting in the early stages of the war. The report reviewed the performance of the division during the first 21 days of the war, which ended with the capture of Baghdad.

The division, which comprises about 12,000 troops, reported chaotic conditions during the early stage of the Iraqi war. Requests from the mechanized division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga., were ignored and in the end thousands of soldiers crossed into Iraq without sufficient ammunition. The division sustained 44 casualties during combat in Iraq.

"Every attempt to gain the ammunition assets resulted in some agency or another denying requests, short-loading trucks or turning away soldiers," the report said. "The entire situation became utter chaos. The division crossed short the ammunition it had declared necessary to commit to combat."

The report said the division, which was said to have engaged in urban warfare with intense determination, kept advancing in Iraq despite shortages of ammunition, fuel, spare parts and medical supplies. But the report said the division would have been unable to maintain its advance had soldiers been ordered to move north beyond Baghdad.

The army division also faced shortages of gloves, suits and mask filters required for protection against Iraqi biological and chemical weapons. In some cases, units were provided with decontamination kits that had expired.

The report has served as the basis for a Pentagon drive to improve military logistics in wake of the war in Iraq. The Pentagon effort has included the restructuring of the chain of command for logistics to ease pressure on field commanders to both fight as well as maintain responsibility for re-equipping their troops.

Communications problems were also cited in the report. The 3rd Division often failed to maintain contact with headquarters as half of the cellular phones failed to operate in Iraq.

"Most units literally spent 21 days in continuous combat operations without receiving a single repair part," the report said. "Shortages of predictably high-demand repair parts and vehicular fluids had the most lasting effect on fleet readiness. The army's current supply system failed before and during the operation."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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