'Old Ironsides' DISCOM deploys to Iraq: the commander of the 1st Armored Division's Division Support Command tells the story of his unit's move to Baghdad.
Groundwork for deployment. The groundwork for our deployment was laid over a year ago. The 1st Armored Division began executing predeployment tasks just as all U.S. Army Europe units began transforming from a theater focus on Europe's Central Region and the Balkans to a worldwide focus as part of a rapidly deployable force.
The division began deployment preparations for Iraq with a series of deployment exercises that concentrated on intermediate staging base (ISB) operations. All units were required to conduct ISB operations before each movement to a major training area. All unit movements to gunnery and Combat Maneuver Training Center rotations were used to verify and codify the division's reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSO&I) processes and systems. The division had to establish comprehensive readiness tracking systems so it could see the status of all of its combat systems and enablers. It also had to use the Defense Transportation Recording and Control System, radio frequency identification tags, and the Joint Deployment Logistics Model to achieve in-transit visibility of division materiel during tactical road marches. These tasks improved the division's ability to track the buildup of combat power from its home station to the deployment theater. Tracking readiness and movements simultaneously was a tremendous challenge for the movement control section and the maintenance and supply section of the division's materiel management center (MMC).
STAMIS connectivity. A key to success during deployment preparations was the efforts of the combat service support automation management office (CSSAMO) to improve the reliability and durability of the division's Standard Army Management Information Systems (STAMIS). The CSSAMO focused on developing ways to improve connectivity by essentially creating a "methods menu" for users to follow when transferring STAMIS data. All possible courses of action for transferring data were considered as part of the menu, including diskette exchange, wireless CAISI (Combat Service Support Automated Information System Interface), high-frequency radio BLASTing, and satellite connectivity.
The CSSAMO's innovative approaches to improving systems reliability and connectivity were critical to the division's ability to monitor its daily maintenance and supply status successfully. The benefits were twofold: accurate and timely maintenance data for the division commander, and increased soldier confidence in the supply system.
Deployment training. The 1st Armored Division developed and implemented an intense deployment training program that set the stage for mission success. During the predeployment period, the DISCOM--
* Developed tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to prepare for success in Iraq.
* Conducted a number of seminars focused on logistics over extended distances and combat service support considerations during desert operations.
* Executed several requirements reviews for authorized stockage lists (ASLs) and prescribed load lists based on desert operations.
* Developed several courses of action for ensuring ASL mobility.
* Conducted studies to identify and analyze potential key logistics nodes for the early stages of deployment.
"2-minute drill." The capstone event in the predeployment training process was the division's "2-minute drill." Essentially, this was a division-wide gunnery exercise involving all major weapon systems, including crew-served and individual small arms. This intensive training period challenged the DISCOM's ability to maintain the readiness of the division's rolling stock and individual weapons while preparing to deploy. The training was completed in 3 weeks and required the most intense use of weapons ranges in the recent history of the division. The DISCOM not only supported the supply and maintenance of all weapon systems but also qualified over 1,800 soldiers on their individual weapons.
The true heroes of the 2-minute drill were the personnel of the division ammunition office (DAO). They were given the monumental task of ensuring that all range ammunition requirements were resourced satisfactorily. For nearly 30 straight days, the DAO processed requests, issued ammunition, and processed the turn-in of live and residue ammunition. Through their responsive and flexible efforts, every ammunition requirement was met.
Combat health support. Our predeployment preparations began with in-depth planning, not only within the division's battle staff but also with our supporting corps medical brigade and surgeon's cell staff. Through many planning conferences, coordination meetings, and rehearsals, we tailored a combat health support plan to best sustain the division's anticipated combat operations.
The conferences focused on medical evacuation, command and control of evacuation assets, preventive medicine, and field sanitation. We also ensured that echelons-above-division (EAD) combat health support assets were integrated and synchronized in the plan. Other home-station preparations included ordering 100 percent of our class VIII (medical materiel) ASL to create an immediate replenishment ability once we were on the ground; conducting combat lifesaver training, with the goal of having one trained combat lifesaver for every combat system in the division; and ensuring deployment readiness for all medical areas, including immunizations, dental care, and female health.
Maintenance focus period. Immediately following the 2-minute drill, the division moved into a comprehensive focused maintenance period at the organizational and direct support (DS) levels to repair vehicles and weapon systems. This period was intended to last just over 2 weeks, but it was compressed to meet our deployment schedule.
The DISCOM assumed a risk during this period by concentrating its resources on maintaining the equipment of customer units and deferring maintenance on its organic equipment. As a direct result of this effort, the division successfully loaded 8,500 pieces of rolling stock on ships with less than 60 pieces deadlined. The division MMC's materiel readiness section tracked the readiness status of equipment being outloaded daily, identified required maintenance, and determined the class IX (repair parts) that would be needed on arrival in Kuwait.
Final predeployment actions. While the DISCOM's lead elements deployed to Kuwait with the division's advanced echelon (ADVON), the DISCOM's support battalions sustained deployment preparations and continued to process all incoming class IX requirements. These repair parts were consolidated at the 123d Main Support Battalion (MSB) and containerized in 20-foot MILVANs, then placed in the last division force package. This final push of repair parts was critical to sustaining the division's readiness while the class IX pipeline transitioned from the Central Region in Germany to Southwest Asia.
The DISCOM also focused on honing convoy procedures by conducting several days of convoy live-fire exercises. This was no small task since all of the DISCOM's vehicles and crew-served weapons were already in transit to Kuwait. But by using equipment loaned by the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), we were able to run 13 platoon iterations of day, night, and nuclear-biological-chemical convoy live-fire exercises.
Actions in Kuwait
ADVON initiatives. On 18 April, the lead elements of the DISCOM deployed as a part of the 1st Armored Division ADVON. The 14-soldier DISCOM team was led by the chief of the division MMC and included personnel from the ground safety office, CSSAMO, DAO, and the property book office and the division senior maintenance technician.
The DISCOM ADVON team focused on establishing connectivity to the Standard Army Retail Supply System (SARSS-2A), replenishing the Central Region's ASL zero balance, ensuring that sufficient class I (subsistence) was available to support the flow of 1st Armored Division personnel into the theater, and constructing and distributing ammunition basic loads.
The team also was responsible for the key task of integrating the division with the theater and corps logistics infrastructures. This was a critical prerequisite for setting the conditions for the division's successful RSO&I in Iraq. A cell was established at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, to connect with the theater logistics RSO&I cell. This gave the DISCOM instant access to staff sections that could provide logistics enablers for the division, thereby laying the foundation for the division to conduct a rapid and smooth transition from the camps in Kuwait to forward deployed locations in Iraq.
Arrival of main body. Once the DISCOM headquarters and the support battalion main bodies began to flow into Kuwait, the DISCOM shifted its focus to becoming familiar with the climate, terrain, and convoy procedures. While the division resided in Kuwaiti base camps, the DISCOM's logistics focus was the establishment of SARSS and the Standard Army Maintenance System (SAMS). The CSSAMO quickly established connectivity through the use of satellite communications. The rapid establishment of these key systems allowed us to begin operating the class IX pipeline and maintain visibility of the readiness of key systems.
Combat health focus. Once in theater, the DISCOM moved quickly to link the EAD combat health support assets to its forward support medical companies. The division received both DS air and ground ambulance platforms and embedded forward surgical, combat stress control, and preventive medicine teams with each ground maneuver brigade combat team. The DISCOM also had to identify additional resources needed to support the expanding number of units attached to the division.
The division medical supply office (DMSO) quickly established its links to the corps and theater medical logistics infrastructure to begin the class VIII resupply process. Our division surgeon and division medical operations center personnel, in coordination with the DMSO, worked hard to anticipate customer unit requisitions. They identified and built level III class VIII stocks to reduce turnaround times for forward surgical teams and medication resupply and established a means of tracking malaria prophylaxis, chronic medications for soldiers, and anthrax and smallpox vaccinations. [Level III care is lifesaving surgery and resuscitative care.] Our combat health support team staged capabilities in forward locations and sought to acquire items to augment the capabilities of our forward care providers.
The challenge for the DISCOM was to reduce the number of soldiers who had to be evacuated to level III treatment facilities and to anticipate a growing range of illnesses and injuries while supporting stability operations. We continue to refine our concept of support to adapt to the changing nature of stability operations. Our combat health support team continues to conduct monthly conferences with all of the division's care providers and medical leaders to better synchronize support for all division soldiers.
Actions on the Objective
Onward movement. The division's deployment was very successful through the reception and staging portion of RSO&I. We then faced the next hurdle, onward movement and integration, which proved to be the most challenging phases of the RSO&I process.
The sheer harshness of the desert environment and the extended distance from the base camps in Kuwait to the forward locations in Iraq made onward movement an arduous task. The division conducted a 450-kilometer movement, lasting roughly 18 hours, to relocate from the base camps to the relief-in-place (RIP) sites in the Baghdad area of operations, where it would relieve the 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized). The tactical road march was conducted over rugged terrain and in extremely hot weather. We also had to protect our force against attacks by sporadic rocket-propelled-grenade and small-arms fire directed against us along the route.
To facilitate the division's rapid transition from RSO&I to its current operations in the Baghdad area, the DISCOM again surged to meet emerging maintenance and supply requirements. The heaviest burden was placed on the MSB's maintenance and transportation companies, which furnished recovery maintenance teams along the route to Baghdad. These teams conducted multiple round trips along the route to ensure that all equipment was rapidly recovered and moved forward to prevent theft and damage from unfriendly elements along the route.
While we were in the Kuwaiti base camps, we conducted numerous battle drills to prepare for contingencies along the route of march to Baghdad. These drills proved essential to our successful movement. Also critical to our success was the dissemination of daily intelligence and route summaries derived from previous convoys. This critical information was pushed down to the individual soldier through the use of a situational strip map that provided a visualization of critical points and named areas of interest (NAIs) along the route. It also offered a short synopsis of recent enemy and civilian activity in the vicinity of each NAI. This information allowed our soldiers to prepare mentally and anticipate the actions they would be required to take.
The DISCOM made a significant effort to harden vehicles against unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices, and mines. We also took actions to protect secondary loads from looters and large crowds congregated at specific areas along the route.
RIP operations. A DISCOM advance-party RIP team was sent forward several days before the movement of the main body to coordinate battle handoff tasks with the 3d Infantry Division. The RIP team immediately began a deliberate mission analysis with the 3d Infantry Division's DISCOM, which resulted in a list of 18 critical combat service support tasks for a successful RIP. The analysis also included basic force-protection tasks, such as internal base-cluster defense, intelligence collection and dissemination, situational awareness, TTPs for convoy operations, and base life support.
Initially, the 3d Infantry Division provided the majority of combat service support to the 1st Armored Division, allowing the 1st Armored Division's support battalions to establish base DS capabilities and build DS stocks. The entire DISCOM RIP process was conducted over 3 weeks because of the extended timeline for each support battalion to move forward with their habitual brigades. The key to success was decentralized execution and a fundamental understanding of the DISCOM concept of support. After completing the RIP, the 1st Armored DISCOM surged to provide backup support to the 3d Infantry Division so that the division could prepare its units for redeployment.
Support "Baghdad style." After our support battalions closed on their forward operating locations and the new task organization took effect, the DISCOM assumed the mission of supporting four additional brigades. That made us responsible for supporting a total of eight brigades, three separate battalions, and four separate companies. The supported units were dispersed across the greater Baghdad metropolitan area. A DISCOM traditionally finds itself supporting over greater distances, which is more in line with the doctrinal templates. Our current support battalion positions are located within a 25-mile radius, with the exception of the MSB.
The fundamental challenge the DISCOM faced while supporting units inside Baghdad was providing force protection to logistics convoys through the maze of road networks and daily traffic. The long-term concept of support was to push all commodities directly to brigade support areas from the MSB and the logistics release point (LRP), but our initial procedure was supply point distribution at the LRP. This was done to allow the MSB to complete its second round trip of equipment and trailers from Kuwait and to complete a maintenance standdown of Bravo Company's transportation assets. The LRP became our center of gravity for all commodities; sustainment stocks were pushed there from multiple locations, including corps logistics support areas, Kuwait, and directly from the containerization consolidation points at Dover and Charleston Air Force Bases in the United States.
Sustaining Current Operations
Now that we are set up and sustaining operations in Baghdad, we continue to refine the concept of support and convoy operations procedures while striving to improve soldier quality of life. By using contracting support and field ordering officers, we have successfully procured goods and services that have improved our transportation and materials-handling equipment (MHE) capabilities.
Our major lessons learned concern the increased burden on the division's transportation company from supporting four additional brigades, the unreliability of rough-terrain container handlers (which are needed for distributing 20-foot MILVANs), and our extremely heavy reliance on MHE. We recommend that the theater and corps MMCs review class IX requirements for this type of operation in a desert environment; we need to look again at requirement objectives because of the heavy use of equipment. Each of these issues created serious maintenance challenges as well an increased emphasis on effective management of vehicle drivers.
The last year has passed very quickly. The accomplishments of the soldiers of the 1st Armored Division's DISCOM have been impressive. As an example, just over a year ago we deployed the entire MSB and the 127th Aviation Support Battalion about 30 kilometers from home-station bases to local training areas for their first exercise evaluations in nearly 6 years. Twelve months later, we successfully deployed to Kuwait, moved 450 kilometers into Iraq, and now are conducting daily LOGPAC (logistics package) operations under combat conditions. The DISCOM is proving its mettle every day. We currently are providing the division with first-rate daily logistics support, and we remain postured to respond to all emerging contingencies.
THE AUTHOR THANKS LIEUTENANT COLONEL SCOT PATRICK GLEASON, THE DISCOM EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AND LIEUTENANT COLONEL ROBERT EDWARD GAGNON, THE DIVISION MATERIEL MANAGEMENT OFFICER, FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN WRITING THIS ARTICLE.
COLONEL KENNETH S. DOWD IS THE DEPUTY G-4 OF U.S. ARMY EUROPE. HE SERVED AS THE COMMANDER OF THE 1ST ARMORED DIVISION SUPPORT COMMAND FROM 2001 TO 2003, WHERE HE HELPED PREPARE THE DIVISION FOR ITS DEPLOYMENT TO IRAQ. HE HAS SERVED IN NUMEROUS KEY LOGISTICS ASSIGNMENTS, INCLUDING COMMANDER OF THE 299TH FORWARD SUPPORT BATTALION AND OFFICER-IN-CHARGE OF THE ARMY LOGISTICAL OPERATIONS CENTER AT THE PENTAGON.