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
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."