The Army Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth was the site of the Blogger’s Roundtable interview concerning the challenges of logistics in Afghanistan and Iraq. The transportation and supply and re-supply of essential war materials and comforts such as mail and the movement of military personnel had similarities in both theatres and some very different challenges as well! We met with several students of the college with very recent experience in either Iraq, Afghanistan and in some cases both! The CGSC is a selective school for 0-4s (Majors/Lt Commanders) with all the services represented. On this Roundtable call were Army logistics officers, a Navy Lieutenant Commander logistics officer assigned to a SEAL team, a Field Artillery officer and a Reservist dealing with personnel. All had seen the challenges of the logistics routes to theatres on the other side of the globe.
When asked what their biggest challenges were the infrastructure (or lack of infrastructure) was highest on the list for Afghanistan and the movement of personnel into/out the Iraq theatre during the drawdown was mentioned by one officer. The urban combat environment in Iraq versus the far flung detachments of personnel in Afghanistan had major impacts on providing supplies for the men and women on the front lines. In Iraq the convoys were frequently attacked but as the phased withdrawal occurred more Iraqis were trained in heavy convoy movements. This reduced the need for American drivers and equipment. There were a few stories of theft but a consensus was that less than 1% of materials was stolen. Considering the economic status of the Iraqis and Afghans that seems like a pretty smooth effort!
I asked these front line officers what they thought of the airlift support they had received and they said it was one of the “success” stories of logistics. One said the logistics effort could not have survived without airlift! While all the officers seemed to agree that more airlift could have been used they felt that they received their priority cargo on time and that schedules effectively maintained their supply lines. One officer commented on the use of airdrop as a very effective tool to resupply detachments at the distant locations in Afghanistan. The CDS (container delivery system) airdrops saved time and effort for convoys on the challenging roads and improved security. According to the Lt Commander the disposable parachutes were a great way to go! There was much praise how the Air Force managed their airlift support and how the relationship and coordination among the services was “amazing”.
With field grade officers in joint positions understanding the strengths, limitations and needs of each other during combat it will be a big plus for future coordination at the senior levels of DoD! With schools at the different services using these experiences to build and plan for future conflicts we are in good hands! Thank you for this great discussion and interview! Best wishes for all the students to have much career success and thank you for your wonderful service to this great country!
If you would like to listen to this Roundtable or read a transcript please go to DoDLive!
Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army Command and General Staff College DoDLive