Magazine article National Defense

Central Command Reports Improvements in Logistics

Magazine article National Defense

Central Command Reports Improvements in Logistics

Article excerpt

As a new round of troop rotations gets under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military transportation officials expect fewer logistics hassles than seen previously. In Iraq, particularly, the lessons from the past 18 months and an influx of resources have led to measurable improvements in the shipment of supplies, and in the distribution of equipment inside the theater, officials said.

In response to logistics nightmares experienced in the early stages of the Iraq occupation--such as fuel and spare parts shortages, as well as delays sorting out massive loads of cargo--the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Transportation Command set up an operations cell in Kuwait strictly to oversee the distribution of supplies to 17 brigades deployed throughout Iraq.

The organization--called the Central Command deployment and distribution operations center--started out as an experiment but has acquired a more permanent status, and is likely to serve as a model for how to manage logistics operations in a theater of war, noted Maj. Gen. William E. Mortensen, director of logistics at U.S. Central Command.

The logistics cell, unlike any other organization in the chain of command, has up-to-date information on every incoming shipment and matches them up with the requests from the field. Among the immediate priorities was to set up supply routes from Kuwait to the various U.S. military staging bases in Iraq, and to remove bottlenecks at ports of debarkation that can hold up deliveries for days or weeks.

The process has gotten smoother, according to Mortensen. "It gets a little bit easier the longer you are at it," he said in an interview. "We are becoming more solidified in location and we are maturing the theater." Although "pockets of shortages" remain, he said, from Central Command's perspective, "the support is as good as it's ever been."

The Defense Logistics Agency was scheduled in August to open a supply depot in Kuwait that will stock 7,800 of the highest-demand items. Maj. Gen. Daniel G. Mongeon, director of operations at DLA, said commanders prefer to have access to critical supplies in the theater, as opposed to having everything shipped from the United States. …

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