Logistics Chief Reports on Operation Iraqi Freedom Effort
By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2004 – The Defense Department's logistics organization has procured myriad vital supplies for service members deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, a senior U.S. military officer noted here March 30.
Service members rely on the Defense Logistics Agency "to provide food, fuel, medical supplies, clothing, construction and barrier material, and more than 90 percent of their weapons systems supply parts, both in times of peace and war," Navy Vice Adm. Keith W. Lippert noted in prepared remarks delivered to the House Readiness Subcommittee.
Lippert, DLA's chief, told the subcommittee his organization was notified to prepare for potential hostilities with Iraq in July 2002. Funds budgeted for logistics support of the war, he noted, were used to purchase spare aviation parts, land and maritime weapon systems, clothing, food, medical supplies and fuel.
He said other items on the initial supply list for the war included desert- camouflage-pattern uniforms and $30 million worth of various vaccines.
DLA also provided medical and other supplies for the 1,000-bed, military hospital ship USNS Comfort, Lippert said, which deployed in theater.
Other items high on the requisition list included field rations called "Meals, Ready to Eat," Lippert observed, since they constituted the main food for troops during combat operations "until a revised feeding plan was implemented."
At the peak of Iraqi Freedom, Lippert continued, "the MRE requirement was 350,000 MREs per day." The top MRE production rate reached 1.4 million cases during April 2003, he observed, seven times the normal monthly production.
Chemical suits were another important troop supply item for the Iraq war, Lippert said, noting that more than 3 million were provided. This number, he said, included about 2,000 custom-made suits for service members outside the standard of average body size.
The decision made to procure anticipated war supplies before the March 19 onset of hostilities with Iraq "proved to be very effective," Lippert noted.
DLA's operations had become much more efficient in recent years before Iraqi Freedom, the admiral said. Although DLA still warehouses some critical high- demand military items, he noted, "a significant portion of the warfighter's supplies are shipped directly from manufacturers, distributors and strategic suppliers with whom we have prearranged contracts with surge provisions."
This method of doing business, Lippert explained, is more efficient, speeds up logistics operations, and "is an entirely different approach than was used in both Vietnam and (Operation) Desert Storm."
Other U.S. military logistics improvements, the admiral noted, include direct shipment of pallets to specified customers and the use of radio frequency identification tags.
And to improve distribution of supplies once they arrive in theater, Lippert said, DLA is partnering with U.S. Transportation Command, the Joint Munitions Command and the military services to staff U.S. Central Command's Deployment Distribution Operations Center pilot program in Kuwait.
The CDDOC -- set up in January 2004 -- already has paid dividends, Lippert observed, noting "the CDDOC synchronized onward movement of 672 air pallets destined for Iraq that were flown into Kuwait when military airlift was consumed by force rotation operations."
DLA, which has its headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va., "remains committed to ensuring that America's fighting forces are the best equipped in the world," Lippert told the subcommittee.
"We pledge to use American's resources wisely, and with your continued support we will prevail in the war on terrorism. Our nation and our freedom depend on it."
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