100 Miles from Baghdad: With the French in Desert Storm

By James J. Cooke | Go to book overview

5

As SALMAN INTERLUDE

Janvier's first order of business was to reposition his division to protect MSR Texas and As Salman airfield and town. If there was danger from what was left of the Iraqi forces in our area, it would come down from the north at Sammawah or from the northwest at An Najaf. Of course, the desert to the immediate west of MSR Texas was a concern, since the paved road had vast amounts of equipment and supplies continually moving along it.

MSRs Texas and Virginia had, in the long run, proved to be less vital to the war effort than we had originally thought. Those paved roads across the desert were to be the great supply link for the Corps units conducting the deep battle. As we knew more about the terrain over which the 101st and 24th had to move, it was doubted that their divisional MSRs, paths over the rocky desert soil, would be adequate to supply the troops, tanks, and combat vehicles. In an article that appeared in U.S. News & World Report on 11 March 1991, which I saw while at As Salman, it was reported that the 24th Infantry Division required 171 trucks to haul over 3,000 tons of ammunition. Interestingly, only three huge trucks were required to carry the 59 tons of food that division needed while on its march to Basra. As any Desert Storm veteran can relate, the combat units got used to short supplies of food—it was never generous.

Most of the new supply equipment had never really been tested except in simulated combat at Fort Irwin, California, the NTC. It was felt that the wheeled supply vehicles would hold up better if they used the hardtopped roads that the French now held. When the attacks kicked off, the fuel, ammunition, and food haulers actually took off on a straight line across the desert to better support rapidly moving tanks and armored personnel carriers, and they performed better than those of us who had seen the conditions at NTC take their toll of vehicles could ever have dared to hope. While MSRs Texas and Virginia got less business than originally thought, they were still

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