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thedrifter
04-18-06, 08:29 AM
Use of air keeps U.S. toll down in Iraq
By UPI Staff
United Press International
April 18, 2006

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Of the 20,000 soldiers assigned to the 3d Combat Support Command in Balad, Iraq, just one has been killed-in-action since October.

"That's the last soldier that we have had killed to enemy fire. So you might say with an organization of 20,000, that's a great statistic. But what I would tell you, to that soldier's family that's 100 percent," said Brig. Gen. Rebecca Halstead.

It is an impressive number. More than 120 combat logistics patrols move out of LSA Anaconda -- a massive base in Balad which is home to more people than work in the Pentagon -- every day. That translates to more than 17,000 trucks on the road per week. The logistics patrols move over a million gallons of fuel, nine million short tons of ammunition, and over 80,000 cases of water every day, according to Halstead.

Halstead is trying to maximize the use of aircraft to reduce the number of trucks on the road, and thereby reduce the vulnerability of U.S. troops to roadside bombs, which claim most of the U.S. casualties in Iraq. More than 500 pallets of supplies are flown daily. In March alone, 16,000 pallets of supplies were flown around Iraq.

"We are seeing huge success on that. And success, for us, means not putting more trucks on the road," she said.

But not all areas of Iraq are accessible by cargo planes.

"There's a lot of factors in there. And that's why it's hard to maximize sometimes, because there are many different airfields, many different types of aircraft, and there's a lot of different ways to build your pallets," Halstead said. "There are airfields that have to receive it, so you're looking at point of departure, point of arrival, the type of aircraft available."

Ellie