View Full Version : Forget the supply dumps _ modern military logistics looks more like Wal-Mart

03-17-03, 05:32 AM
Forget the supply dumps _ modern military logistics looks more like Wal-Mart

The Associated Press
3/15/03 1:08 PM

KUWAIT CITY (AP) -- Whether they're eating lobster tails or pre-packaged rations of beans and rice, American forces in the Persian Gulf benefit from a military logistics chain more in tune with Wal-Mart than the traditional supply dump.

The modern military uses computerized tracking systems, outsourced contractors and other distribution techniques to feed and equip the 200,000 soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen deployed in one of the world's harshest environments.

The numbers involved are huge -- for example, getting some 250,000 gallons of water a day to the troops scattered across the Kuwaiti desert waiting for President Bush's order to invade Iraq.

Once they get rolling, supply consumption goes up. A tank division on the move can burn close to 500,000 gallons of diesel a day.

"All the best practices that are used in business today are used in the military," Col. Billy Pratt, who oversees supplies for the land forces in Kuwait, said Saturday. "It's very much analogous to what Federal Express or UPS does -- with the difference that my customers keep moving."

Pratt, a 25-year veteran, from Atlanta, operates what military parlance calls an Integrated Sustainment Center, which brings military supplies -- everything from food, water and clothing to ammunition, spare parts and fuel -- under one roof.

A complex automated system sends a brigade combat team's needs back up the supply chain so, for example, a spare tank engine can quickly be found and moved through the pipeline.

It's not quite real-time, but it's close enough that huge "iron mountain" stockpiles of ammunition and gear in the desert -- like during the first Gulf War -- are no longer needed, Pratt said.

But the supply challenges remains. The U.S. military in the region has more than quadrupled over the past three months. The weather is getting hotter, troops are deployed deeper in the desert, and the prospect of having to feed hundreds of thousands of surrendering Iraqi troops weighs on planners.

Troops invading Iraq would bring enough extra supplies for prisoners, but want to quickly turn responsibility for their care over to humanitarian agencies.

"The best thing we can do is open up the pathway for these other organizations to do their work," said Marine Maj. Chris Hughes, a public affairs officer.

An American soldier in the desert requires three meals a day -- whether from a mess tent, the back of a chow truck or the packaged military rations called Meals-Ready-to-Eat -- and 1 gallons of water, most of it bottled and purchased from regional suppliers.

The menu varies depending on where the troops are located. Some forward troops are already living off MREs. Marine aviators got an unexpected treat of lobster tails and Swiss steaks this week -- an omen, in some eyes, that war must be around the corner.

At forward battle positions, company commanders warn men to maintain stocks in their armored vehicles and to keep fuel tanks full, expecting that once they get the order to go, they won't be stopping.

Should they reach a large water source -- such as the Tigris or Euphrates rivers inside Iraq -- the military has water purifiers that can produce several hundred thousand gallons of drinking water a day.

For fuel to keep the thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, trucks and Humvees running, Kuwait has laid pipelines to dumps of rubber containers -- each holding 210,000 gallons -- at sites scattered around the desert.

About 8 million gallons is stockpiled now, Pratt said. Tanker trucks run the stuff from the "bag farms" to the front line.

British troops -- whom the British press have dubbed "The Borrowers" because of their requests for American gear -- are still awaiting some of their desert combat equipment, including camouflage.

Lt. Col. David Paterson, commanding officer of Britain's First Fusiliers Battle Group, wore black boots at a meeting with reporters this week and conceded that desert boots in his size had not arrived yet.

"We flowed the best part of 20,000 troops into theater in six weeks," Paterson said. Considering where the troops are, supply "takes a little more time."

U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the region take on fuel, food, ammunition and cargo from supply ships that pull alongside.

In one recent resupply, crates of food brought aboard the USS Kitty Hawk -- which serves 17,000 meals a day -- included lobster tails that were grilled and served with melted butter for the officers' Sunday dinner. Enlisted men had steamed chicken.

While salt water surrounds a carrier, clean water is always limited. So the Kitty Hawk makes its own. Onboard desalination plants distill some 380,000 gallons daily -- enough to allow the sailors to take hot showers.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press



03-17-03, 09:11 PM
As usual, Officers git the Lobster Tail, the workers git Chicken,thats the Navy for you.