DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
Oral History Interview
DSIT AE 016
2d Battalion, 159th Aviation
LTC Michael T. Mulvennin
CSM Wilson E. King
Interview Conducted 30 December 1990 at Dhahran West Heliport, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Interviewer: MAJ Dennis P. Levin (130th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 016
MAJ LEVIN: This is an Operation DESERT SHIELD interview being conducted on 30 December 1990 at the headquarters of 2 of the --
LTC MULVENNIN: 2d and 159 [2d Battalion, 159th Aviation].
MAJ LEVIN: 159 Aviation. The interviewing official is MAJ Dennis Patrick Levin of the 130th Military History Detachment.
Sir, would you please state your rank, full name, and Social Security Number?
LTC MULVENNIN: My name is Michael Thomas Mulvennin, I am a lieutenant colonel. My Social Security number is ***-**-****.
MAJ LEVIN: Sergeant Major?
CSM KING: CSM Wilson E. King; Social Security Number is ***-**-****; 2d of the 159th Aviation battalion.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Sir, what was your unit and duty position at the time that you first became aware of the Operation DESERT SHIELD? And how long have you been in that position?
LTC MULVENNIN: I was the battalion commander then, and the unit has remained the same. And we were notified of the situation ... we were in the field on 6 August  and notified the morning of 7 August (early) that we were on alert. At that time we began preparation for DESERT SHIELD. We had people leaving as early as August and with a majority of the units deploying over here in mid-September.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. SGM [King], were you the sergeant major of the battalion at the time when Operation DESERT SHIELD went into effect?
CSM KING: Yes, sir. I had been with the battalion for about a little over a year when we were notified to deploy on DESERT SHIELD.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Did you have any involvement in the CPX INTERNAL LOOK, or Command Post Exercise INTERNAL LOOK, in July 1990?
LTC MULVENNIN: The entire battalion staff was involved with INTERNAL LOOK, working with the [18th Aviation] Brigade as a part of the internal cell, and we did play the exercise.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Were there any ... how did you feel about that exercise? Was it a good preparation for this?
LTC MULVENNIN: It was a good exercise in that it gave us a good outlook in what to expect over here. There were some different variables in that ... of course, we were almost a mature theater now, with a hell of a lot more forces involved. And based on that and the logistics problems, it gave us some good insight. Like I said, with the size of the theater and the way it is now, the deployment being what it is, it is a lot different. But we learned a lot from it in regards to, like I said, the area, the terrain, things that we needed to know to prepare ourselves to do this operation, and I think it has helped us in becoming combat ready.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay, I am not terribly familiar with that particular exercise. Was it focused on Saudi Arabia itself?
LTC MULVENNIN: It was focused in the Southwest Asia area, going up through Saudi and inland.
MAJ LEVIN: What were some aspects of it that really stand out in your mind that were helpful?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, it taught us a lot about ... it was more focused ... a lot of it was, of course, focused on the ground, but it showed us the logistic requirements that we were going to be needing to sustain ourselves over here, gave us a big ... big idea of what we needed to do and how we needed to do it. Of course, that was on a much smaller scale then. Now, with the theater the way it is (and it has grown), one of our biggest problems, then, of course, is the deployment over here, getting enough forces on the ground to sustain ourselves and be able to hold on to what we had. And, all in all, it gave us some good planning figures, told us what we needed to bring, how much, and what to plan for once we got over here.
And there were some good things that actually, now, that INTERNAL LOOK had been blown up even more. And I think, if I am not mistaken, they have people from Fort Leavenworth, [Kansas], over here conducting a new BCTP [Battle Command Training Program] training program, trying to conduct another INTERNAL LOOK "Extraordinaire," I guess you could call it, trying to review what we have ... the forces on the ground and now size it up against Iraq and what they had to do.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. So the projections that they had in INTERNAL LOOK, for at least the initial part of the deployment, were fairly accurate?
LTC MULVENNIN: Sure. It did not, with ... who we were up against with the forces on the ground ... it ... we ... we were going to lose a lot of folks in accomplishing the mission. And of course, we tried ... based on that learning exercise we planned logistically and militarily ... you know ... our offensive posture is going to be a little bit different. And we learned a lot of good things in that exercise, which has helped us both prepare for our DESERT SHIELD operation.
MAJ LEVIN: In the CPX INTERNAL LOOK, were you anticipating coming in in a hot environment? Or ... I'm not talking about temperature; I'm talking about level of conflict.
LTC MULVENNIN: Sure. Well, we were coming in ... when we were deploying in here, there was a very good chance of going into a hot ... hot situation. And as a result, with some of the exercising, and planning the exercises, we sustained some casualties, lost some aircraft. And so we tried to better prepare ourselves for that and tried to reconfigure our missions and our mission profiles, and how we did that, and when we did it, and where we did it, just like what we learned from Panama. Day operations versus night operations, internal versus external, problems of dust, how you do it to keep down your signature and letting the enemy know you're there. Different routes to follow. The safest routes, based on what kind of intel[ligence] we got and which were the safer routes to fly. Reducing the enemy's threat in those areas.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. SGM, is there anything you would like to add on the comparison of INTERNAL LOOK to this operation?
CSM KING: I think one of the things, and as the colonel had said, you know, the logistics was a big problem here. And supporting as many soldiers as we figured out that would have to come here. One of the things that I think that ... and I've talked with a lot of the enlisted soldiers ... is that they did not understand how hot the environment would be, deploying into this. And it give us a good look at some of the temperatures and some of the briefings here that we could pass on to all of the soldiers that helped us when we actually arrived here in September to be able to expect and then go ahead and have an extensive knowledge of it to survive in this environment.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. What kind of things were emphasized? Like water, and that sort of thing.
CSM KING: Oh, well, we had a lot of training coming into here. Of course it was different from INTERNAL LOOK. We started from that, re-emphasizing the first area. We were drinking a lot of water, the basic thing that you always do, keeping clean, the other things for the hot weather climate here. And of course after we found out we were coming here, most of our training was dedicated towards NBC [Nuclear, Biological and Chemical]-type training and protection in a chemical environment, once we got to know the conditions that we were going to be deploying in.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Let's drop back a little bit. Would you please talk me through the alert process as you experienced it?
LTC MULVENNIN: Okay. Basically we got an internal SOP, Standing Operating Procedure, for being able to move out quickly. And that is based on being a member of the XVIII Airborne Corps and basically a rapid deployment force if necessary. And as I said earlier, we were in the field on an FTX trying to refine our SOPs and just become more familiar with a field environment, since we don't get a lot of that, as much as we should sometimes, but we were getting in preparation for a SAND EAGLE exercise.
And so I had brought one company from Savannah, Georgia, out of Hunter Army Air Field. They came up to work with us, whereas the unit at Fort Bragg--we were already there. And as soon as we got notified that we were ... that what had happened in Kuwait, and the Corps went on alert status, we then immediately brought our stuff back in from the field, and our people back in, packed our vehicles per regular load plans, in preparation for going overseas.
Initially we were told we were going to send four CH-47 [Chinooks] by C-5 [Galaxy] aircraft ... which at that time we had started to move them towards Pope Air Force Base, and got ready to start tearing them down and putting them in the back of a C-5. That was later changed to boat movement. In the meantime, that was going to be a lengthy process of getting the aircraft--all the aircraft there--up to the Wilmington Port, having to shrink-wrap each aircraft. Of course, we were removing the blades and everything else and getting them loaded, along with all the vehicles. So that process took from about the 7th of August up to about the second week in ... or the first week September on our loaded ships.
MAJ LEVIN: Had your unit ever done any shrink-wrapping before?
LTC MULVENNIN: This is the first time we ever did any shrink-wrapping. We had a lot of great support from the folks out at Olathe, Kansas. They came out--the civilians out there, the rep[resentative]s that worked with the military out of Olathe--they came in and helped us shrink-wrap. And we trained our folks at the same time and we shrink-wrapped our aircraft and put them on the boat. Very good, very good experience.
From that period on ... in the midst of all that deploying stuff forward, we also, as the sergeant major briefed, got heavy into NBC training, survival training, things specific to this theater. At that time, after we got that done, we had a little bit of time to spend with our families, a few days, and then they put us on aircraft and flew us over here. And we focused on the same thing over here: maintenance, NBC individual training, and of course, common task test kind of stuff. And continued to maintain over here at a higher level of readiness than we did in the States, and flying a heck of a lot more hours.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. What percentage of your aircraft were prepared for shipment?
LTC MULVENNIN: Every aircraft. Every piece of ... every aircraft was sent over here, which includes 30 CH-47[D]s and 2 UH-1[H]s. And then all of our vehicles were sent over here ... everything made it. And I would say 99 percent of our equipment, at least all the ERC-A [essential readiness code, level A] items. But all of the vehicles and all of the equipment that we needed to complete our mission was sent over here.
MAJ LEVIN: Were any of the vehicles shrink-wrapped?
LTC MULVENNIN: No. All of the vehicles were rolling stock, below decks on the ship. All the aircraft were put above deck and shipped over.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. I understand that they still had a lot of salt on them?
LTC MULVENNIN: There is the humidity and stuff and some of the salt in the air did get to some of the aircraft, and ... because the shrink-wrap ... just going through the seas and stuff, it started to ... some of them ... they had holes. We had a supercargo on there with some additional people on the ship, and their job was to maintain or check the loads, to keep them as secured as possible, as well as keep the elements out. And as soon as we got them off the deck and set the blades on and stuff, we did go out and have them washed with potable water, as we do now in the normal operations. In the long term there might be some ... but we're going to have to work harder at keeping the rust and corrosion off our vehicles and our aircraft, just by the fact that we are in a ... the elements over here are more corrosive as well as more abrasive, especially to rotor blades and engines, so there will be a concerted effort when we get back to sustain the fleet and ... but there's nothing we can't work out.
MAJ LEVIN: What kind of ship was used to transport your equipment?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, we came on four ships. Anything from RO-ROs [Roll-on, Roll-off] to stuff that they pulled out of mothballs. There were four different ships, older-generation ships that were in mothballs, and they pulled them out and finally got everything over. They got everything over here with the exception of one trailer, which is being investigated now by the CID [Criminal Investigation Division] because we haven't found it yet.
MAJ LEVIN: Oh! Okay. Were there any problems with the ships that have been brought out of mothballs? Did they break down or anything?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, we had to change our load times a couple of times based on the problems of getting the engines, the systems, the cooling systems and everything else, working on those ships. They had been there since, basically, World War II. But overall, with the exception of a few small delays, everything seemed to go pretty well. I'd say we got back up to about a week and a half to 2 weeks max[imum] on getting some of this stuff loaded, but nothing out of the normal.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. SGM, could you expound on the mobilization ... or rather the alert and follow-up? What impact did this have on the personnel in the unit?
CSM KING: During the alert notification and the period of time that we spent between the time we were actually notified we were coming and getting here, we ... some of our real problems that we had (that were all taken care of) was the families back home. We found out that there were a lot of people who did not have their correct phone numbers and addresses on alert rosters and recorded on their data cards, and we had a real intensive workload there getting that straight.
Some of the other problems we encountered there was POVs [privately owned vehicles]. A lot of the people, especially single guys and the soldiers, had POVs and we had to provide a place to store all these cars, and I hope they are all setting at Fort Bragg in good shape right now. But that required a lot of work, not only just from the NCOs [noncommissioned officers] but also the NCO's and officers and the PAC [personnel and administration center] personnel. There were a lot of problems there. Our soldiers with pay changes, which we had to get through and hope to get them through in time, and so that the families would continue to get paid.
Another thing that we had there was that a lot of soldiers who had to work with ... a lot of the soldiers there ... is that they were sending their wives back home to wherever they were from, and of course they wanted to take leave, go back, and in a lot of cases we just couldn't let them do that. We had to keep them there at Fort Bragg, not knowing exactly when they would leave.
So there were a lot of things there that we had to do and work on that used up a lot of time, but we accomplished that and got it all done and all the soldiers taken care of before we got out of there.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. How was the morale generally during the course of the alert and preparation for shipment?
CSM KING: The morale of the soldiers seemed to stay high, but initially I think when we actually told them that we'd be going, going to deploy, I think there was a certain amount of uncertainty and fear that sort of hit both them and the families, and you could see that in the soldiers as they walked around. As time went on, and it got closer and closer to time to go and they started accepting the fact that they were coming, that sort of started going away. So overall, the morale stayed up. It would sort of go up and down, but when we left Fort Bragg to come here, the morale was up completely and it was extremely high.
LTC MULVENNIN: And a lot of that had to do with the news. Nobody knew what was happening or how it was happening. So one day it was, we're moving, and the next day, based on guidance from our higher headquarters and the guidance they got, one day we were moving and then ten ... then 2 days later we were still there and not moving for another week. And they just kept moving dates around based on availability of transportation to get us over here. And so, you would get ready to say goodbye to your family, you'd say goodbye, and the next thing you know, you'd be sitting around for another week. So ... that sort of had some impact initially on the morale, but once we got ... we knew where we were going for sure, and we got on the airplane and stuff, morale got high and we maintained it around here even through the holidays, trying to keep people busy. And we've been focused on availability of aircraft and being able to do our mission. And by keep ... doing the right training, keeping the folks busy, and not unnecessarily busy but busy just to keep us sustained, morale has not been a problem.
MAJ LEVIN: That's good.
LTC MULVENNIN: The biggest factor, the biggest concerns, I think, right now is one of, if we are going to war, and if we are going, we are ready to go, and I think the biggest concern is for the loved ones back at home and how they are taking it. And our family support group has been very strong, very effective and we worked with that. We had worked with that several ... several months before this ever came about, so we had a strong family support group, and it has made things a lot easier for us.
MAJ LEVIN: How long had that family support group been in effect? Have you been working on that over the course of the years?
LTC MULVENNIN: No, I have been in command for about 14 months and it has been in effect that long.
CSM KING: We've always had an outstanding family support group meeting. And we meet once a month in the battalion and you know, all the wives support it, so when we left, other than a lot of little problems with phone numbers and addresses of where the wives are at, the program was already established. It was getting all the fine details of us being gone and leaving all the wives back there that had to be worked out.
LTC MULVENNIN: Plus we had families ... we were involved with Panama, too, so we had ...
MAJ LEVIN: Right.
LTC MULVENNIN: We got some experience off of that. People who had gone to Panama.
MAJ LEVIN: Who is this center ... information person in your family support network?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, I've got a rear detachment commander who is our ... he's a CW3 that I left back there, because I got everybody over here except for one officer to run the rear detachment. And then the sergeant major's wife, Barb, and my wife, Christie, are the two key players in that. And fortunately for us, we had worked with, we had adopted a community a year and a half ago, called Sanford, North Carolina, and we support them in their Flag Day and Fourth of July. And since we've been gone, they have sent us numerous packages and they have conducted a picnic for the family in November, and they had a Christmas party for the families and kids in Christmas. And we get all kinds of mail from them. And so between the wives and Sanford, and the other fine citizens of North Carolina, we've had a lot of good care and concern.
MAJ LEVIN: I remember just before I came over here, I drove through Sanford and I saw billboards up talking about aviation, and I thought, gee, this is really unique. But ...
LTC MULVENNIN: That was our battalion. We support them in their ... they asked us to ... we adopted them a little over a year ago and as a result provided them support for their Flag Day Ceremony as well as Fourth of July, and now it's come back. They've even gone as far as taking up collections: guys selling tee shirts, donating stuff and selling that stuff, and the proceeds go to our family support group fund. As well as one of the churches was collecting money to ... I think they bought tickets for a family to go back to their family during Christmas from their fund. So they've really been good at supporting us. As a matter of fact, I have just written a letter to Senator Helms and to the Governor of North Carolina thanking them for the support that Sanford has given us. So, it has been a big help for the families.
MAJ LEVIN: That's great. I know that North Carolina is almost unique in its support for the military. It is very pro-military. And that community really shows it. From the time that you got the alert to the time that you got your equipment shipped, what time frame was that?
LTC MULVENNIN: We got the alert 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning on the 7th, and then ...
MAJ LEVIN: The 7th of August.
LTC MULVENNIN: And then about a week and a half later I sent some people attached to the 82d over ... a week later. POL [petroleum, oil and lubricants] folks, 77F is their MOS (military operational skill), and those went with the 82d initially to sustain them. And then we started sending ... the brigade sent their initial element the last week in August. We sent some ... the advance party with them. And then we got here, our advance party got here, on about the 16th of September, and we arrived here ... we left Fort Bragg on the 20th of September, and then we got here, and we have been here ever since.
MAJ LEVIN: That's a long time from the alert to the ...
LTC MULVENNIN: It sure was. Especially with the notice ... the notification of be prepared to lay a CH ... two CH-47s on a C-5A on like the 8th or 9th of August, and have them fly over here until we finally got everybody over here on the 20th.
MAJ LEVIN: Uh-huh. I imagine the constant changing of schedules ...
LTC MULVENNIN: That's what we were saying about morale.
CSM KING: Yeah.
LTC MULVENNIN: That's ... you'd tell them one thing, and then ... and then the next ten hours it would change again, and that has probably had the biggest impact on morale. And it just made it difficult for us, because you'd be planning, had everything packed and ready to go, and then all of a sudden, we're going to be here for another couple of weeks, so we could do a little more maintenance, read some other stuff, so we'd have to unpack some of the vehicles, unload some of the vehicles and put the stuff back in, and that had the biggest impact in trying to get it done.
MAJ LEVIN: Before you left Fort Bragg, I'm sure that there are items of equipment that you had to pick up additional to what you normally had. Personal items, or special items of equipment that you were augmenting. What kinds of things were you looking for and how available were they?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, of course, we had everything on order that was short, in the first place. The things that we were concerned about is like the uniforms we're wearing, the little what we called ninja suits, which were the little green pants and parkas that you'd wear for working in the desert at night, for the cold and for the wind. Special ... we had to get additional chemical protective overgarments that weren't available. Of course, we had to process the whole battalion for shots. Other equipment people were trying to make sure we had ... that everyone had their full issue of organizational equipment (their TA-50), that everybody had the right boots, etc., getting additional boots that would wear out, additional uniforms, underwear, etc.
Big items that we were concerned about is that we ... ensure we had enough flak vests, body armor that the pilots and crew members would wear in the aircraft, additional radios. We were short numerous trailers and things like that. So everything that we had on normal order, we upped the priority to make sure that stuff got here as quick as possible. And we are still short some of that equipment.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. The support network at Fort Bragg, was it able to move the equipment to you quickly, or did you find that you were ... was there a change in the way the logistics people at Fort Bragg were dealing with you for this, as compared to, like, normal operations?
VOICE: Most of the stuff ... a lot of the stuff ... was available, just because Bragg is used to deployments and there are some wartime stocks. A lot of the stuff, however, got to us after the fact that our stuff had ben shipped, and at that point it was put on pallets and shipped over here. And that's where we run into problems, trying to ... you lose control. The log[istics] ... the ALOC, the air lines of communications, and the aircraft availability began to be a problem, so you had pallets and pallets of stuff stockpiled at one location, say Bragg. And then they move that stuff up to Dover [Air Force Base, Delaware] to get it on an opportunity cargo aircraft, and as a result we have lost some accountability of trying to ... it's been difficult to maintain accountability of your stuff coming over on pallets that have been moved to two different locations or three different locations in the States. When it finally gets over here [its] on another aircraft. And so trying to maintain what is coming in ... there has been a constant communication back and forth with Fort Bragg, but even then somehow or another it doesn't work because it's on tail number such-and-such an aircraft, and that aircraft is broke down somewhere else, or they transfer it for a higher priority cargo. And your stuff doesn't come in.
And so that has been the biggest hassle, is trying to identify where it's at and where it's going to in country. Because now you don't have just Dhahran as an APOD [aerial port of departure], or an APOE [aerial port of entry], but you also have King Fahd [International Airport], you have KKMC [King Khalid Military City], and a few other ... Bahrain. Stuff comes in from everywhere, and just trying to track down the stuff has been a logistics nightmare.
MAJ LEVIN: Are there any particular items that you really, really need that haven't arrived yet?
LTC MULVENNIN: Stuff that has been shipped that we ran into problems with have been radios that came in to the 24th Infantry Division]. The stuff that went to B Company had always come under the 24th regime, so it came into B Company on the 24th ID pallet. Well, they're not even collocated with us, so that was radios and computers. Things that we're still short and critically short are trailers, which really reduce our capacity to move ourselves by ourselves. So instead of using trailers, I now have to either put it inside of a CH-47 or external[ly] load it. Sometimes I don't have the possibility to do that, because my mission might dictate my aircraft to go to one location with my support base, and all my vehicles in another location. And that's the biggest concern right now.
Heaters ... we've got most of our heaters. We are getting more heaters. You know, we couldn't have envisioned that it was going to be cold over here like it's been. But when we got over here, it was 120, 125 degrees. And now we've had some mornings, especially up north, where it's below freezing. So everybody brought their sleeping bags, brought a field jacket, and eventually ... in the system, in the logistics system, despite ... in spite of the problems that there have been, you look at it in retrospect, at how many thousand ... hundreds of thousand of soldiers you have over here, they have done an excellent job. So we can't complain.
MAJ LEVIN: Anything you'd like to add to that?
CSM KING: Yes, sir. Some of the ... even though we got most of it, one of the problems that we encountered as far as equipment and personal equipment coming over here, is that I don't think anyone was quite prepared to send this many soldiers here as fast as they did. We had a lot of problems getting desert uniforms. It was really critical and we have a really good supply system, and they managed to round up some through the DRMO that had been turned into --
MAJ LEVIN: What is DRMO?
LTC MULVENNIN: Director of Resource Management Office, I believe.1
CSM KING: And that's reutilization.
LTC MULVENNIN: Reutilization.
CSM KING: Reutilization, where you turn in ... units that had come here before they used them and then they went back and turned them in. They turn them in to there, and then you can re-draw them back out through that system. So there was a shortage, and most everybody deployed ... we finally got everybody with at least two sets deploying here. The other problem was the MOPP [Mission-Oriented Protective Posture] gear, the equipment, the MOPP suits, the NBC suits. there was a real critical shortage and we were wondering sometimes if we were going to get them before we got here. One of the things that the colonel also mentioned about equipment. With Bravo Company [Company B] being down in Savannah, Georgia, at Hunter Army Air Field, that also created some logistics problems getting equipment there and then coming to us. Because once we were alerted to deploy over here, they come back ... they worked directly under our control to support them and work back and forth.
MAJ LEVIN: So Bravo Company normally supports the 24th?
LTC MULVENNIN: They are ... they are our tenant unit at Hunter Army Air Field. They work for us. They are assigned to this battalion, but just by the fact that they are located at Hunter Army Air Field about a 20 minute flight from Stewart, Georgia ... Fort Stewart ... they do a lot of support for the division. But they are a corps asset assigned to this battalion.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Are they collocated now with the battalion?
CSM KING: Yes, we are here together. Everybody is together.
LTC MULVENNIN: All our aircraft are "up" at Warhawk or West Heliport, and we think we have been here together for the duration. Their soldiers ... their vehicles and aircraft deployed out of Wilmington Port; we were deployed together. Their soldiers flew over from Hunter Army Airfield. They staged right out of there, and flew out ... and we flew out and met the same day. So, since that time we have been here together.
MAJ LEVIN: So the base where your folks are located now is Warhawk?
LTC MULVENNIN: It's Warhawk. The brigade calls it Warhawk Heliport. The Saudis did not like the name Warhawk, so they wanted us to name it West Heliport, but we still refer to it as Warhawk Heliport, Warhawk being the term that is used for the 18th Aviation Brigade.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Do you have much interaction with the Saudis? Or is that done at a different level?
LTC MULVENNIN: Most of that is done ... the only interaction we have is ... it's minimal, with the contracting of ... my S-4 goes down and purchases things off the civilian market. He would do it for the Saudis and he works for the contracting officer at ARCENT [US Army Forces Central Command] to do that. And then, of course, we live off post in a compound, and it is owned by the Saudis and run by Saudis and Brits, and so we have some contact with the Saudis there, but very little face to face.
[END OF SIDE ONE]
MAJ LEVIN: This is Side 2 of Tape 1.
LTC MULVENNIN: Okay. The only other time we dealt any with the Saudis is when we were working on building the heliport. And we got involved in that my battalion safety officer kind of assumed the job of the brigade safety officer, and with my aircraft not having a place to stay, we kind of took charge of developing and working with the Saudis and the contractors and getting the airfield design the way we needed it.
But since then, we have to usually go through ARCENT and of course our higher headquarters first ... but we do little negotiations with the Saudis directly, except for the stuff that we buy downtown.
MAJ LEVIN: Were there any particular problems that you ran into when contracting for the design of the airstrip?
LTC MULVENNIN: No, we worked with the ... had the engineers from ARCENT helping us develop our plans and stuff, but besides the normal delays and the political ramifications you had to go through, nothing out of the ordinary.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. What about the personnel in the unit? Now, I notice you're in a compound off of the [King Abdul Aziz Royal Saudi] Air Base, and that is where headquarters is. Do you ... your people also live in this vicinity, don't they?
LTC MULVENNIN: We live about 10 minutes from the airfield; all live in one compound called S-Soc; I don't know what it stands for but it is the same organization that provides all the support here at the Dhahran airfield. And we, of course, our headquarters is at this location in the brigade headquarters building, and most of our work ... the staff works here. The rest of the people work either in the compound or out on the West Heliport on the aircraft. So ... and a compound holds about 400 folks in which we ... and that's maximum, and that's what we have 400 soldiers.
MAJ LEVIN: How have your troops adjusted to the culture, sergeant major?
CSM KING: They have adjusted well. We haven't ... and, as you know, we don't go downtown, we don't go shopping, and any exposure or contact with the local population is very little. The soldiers, the only ones that we are really coming in contact with are the bus drivers who come out here. They seem to enjoy being around them, they've gotten to know each other real well.
As far as the living conditions here and in the compound we live in, it is crowded with 400 people out there. But we have done well. The soldiers are getting along great, as far as being crowded and sleeping on top of each other. And like the colonel said, we've got 400 in there. So they are doing great out there.
MAJ LEVIN: Do you have any females in this unit?
LTC MULVENNIN: We've got, right now, 28 women assigned and they are all living out there. They've got the large house that used to be[long] to the guy who ran the compound. He had a four-bedroom house, so we had them all living in one house, with, of course, using the living room and dining room to sleep in also. But one of my commanders, Mary Rossi,2 MAJ Rossi, she's what we call "the Madame of the House" and so she's got control of the ladies in that situation. But it's working out real well.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. And there hasn't been any problem between the female troops and the Saudis?
CSM KING: No. We haven't ... in this battalion we haven't had any problems between the two of them.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Very good. Let's see. Your people flew out here, is that correct?
CSM KING: Correct.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay, you fly on what? Commercial or military?
LTC MULVENNIN: We all got here on ... the majority of us got here on commercial air. Some on Pan-Am, some on Northwest Airlines. And everybody seemed to have a good flight. I know I thoroughly enjoyed Northwest. They did a good job for us and they treated us like gold. They gave us everything ... they stripped that aircraft down when we got off they gave us everything they could get rid of to help us have a better stay here.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay.
LTC MULVENNIN: So, it was a good flight.
MAJ LEVIN: Excellent. Would you summarize some of the actions since you settled into a more or less normal routine here? What are some of the things that you have encountered on the ground that had not been anticipated that you had to work through?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, I guess ... you know, really, there's nothing really striking that has hit us, that we have really had to react a lot to. Our biggest problem is trying to establish a good working relationship with our intermediate maintenance unit in providing aircraft support. We have had problems in trying to sustain some of the fleet because of the availability of aircraft engines. And as a result of not being able to get the right tools and the equipment and spare parts, initially, we've had to go down and end up doing approved depot-level maintenance trying to rebuild engines, taking two or three engines and breaking them down to build one. So if anything has come out of that, we have worked longer hours, but we have also been able to train more folks on being able to be better engine repairmen as well as cross-training other folks.
The other thing that we had to probably overcome is that we have just never had the chance to do any wide-scale decontamination operations with the aircraft. And through the direction of ... guidance from me and of course my NBC officer, LT Denny, we've been able to work a lot with the chemical units here in country, and we have conducted 3 days of actual decontamination of aircraft to give us some good training.
The biggest thing, probably, overcoming any problem areas is probably in the logistics part of the house, just trying to sustain ourselves. Additionally, we've moved from the port to another compound to this compound, trying to establish the accounts and to get the number of rations and the right type of rations. This has been the biggest problem.
Again, THE biggest problem is accountability of the equipment that is shipped over from the States and directed to us. But trying to maintain control of that has been a phenomenal task, and requires a lot of time on the phones, and the phone systems over there, as you know, are not the best, trying to get back to the States to coordinate with the rear detachment.
MAJ LEVIN: Who does that? Who is the one who is trying to track all that for your unit?
LTC MULVENNIN: My S-4 does the tracking, working with my rear detachment commander on when the stuff is shipped over. What we do is we leave him a message, and that night my night shift calls him and he passes us traffic and we pass him back things that we need done or information that we need. And that's how we sustain our communications with the world.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. So who is your S-4?
LTC MULVENNIN: Roger Hackey, Captain, is my S-4, and he is augmented by Frank Lamacchia, [C]W3, who is the supply warrant for B Company. He's also got CPT Jones who works for him, who's a reservist and will be here until April. And then we also have a gentleman, SSG Manigo, who runs the aviation side of the house, as ... and he's being guided by CW3 Fred Anderson, who works the aviation side of the house for maintenance.
MAJ LEVIN: Do you have many reservists who have been assigned to your unit temporarily?
LTC MULVENNIN: We just lost six reservists that were aviators. They went back for Christmas. They'd been assigned to us in early August. And presently, right now, we have two that are with us, both of them pilots: CPT Jones and LT Almonzo. LT Almonzo is assigned to B Company out of Savannah, Georgia.
MAJ LEVIN: And how are they working out?
LTC MULVENNIN: They are working out great. They helped us ... they didn't get to do as much flying as they wanted to, but they come over here, kept a good morale, helped us in all possible ways ... anything we needed they were there to help us with and they fit right in just like a regular active duty soldier. And we appreciate them and as a matter of fact we hated to lose them because they are good pilots, good people, and they fit in right well with the unit.
MAJ LEVIN: Were they Individual Ready Reserve, or were they part of a unit?
LTC MULVENNIN: Most of them were IRR, we had a couple of them that were retired and came back on active duty; and one of them, as a matter of fact, did come on active duty, is staying on active duty now, and is going to stay in the Army for another ... he got approval from DA [Department of the Army] the other day for another 5 years. So he's back with us, flying, and doing a super job.
MAJ LEVIN: Great. Okay, getting back to operations on the ground, when you were at Fort Bragg, as I understand it, there was heavy reliance on civilian tech[nical] rep[resentative]s coming out and working with the aircraft.
LTC MULVENNIN: LARS, we call them.
MAJ LEVIN: LARS?
LTC MULVENNIN: Logistics Assistance Reps.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay, and where are they from?
LTC MULVENNIN: AVSCOM, out of St. Louis.
MAJ LEVIN: What is AVSCOM?
LTC MULVENNIN: That is the Aviation Support Command for the Army. They work on all aviation systems.
MAJ LEVIN: Well, if they're out of St. Louis, they're primarily Lockheed?
LTC MULVENNIN: No, they are civilians who work directly for the Department of Defense and for the Army in making systems work. They either ... at AVSCOM you've got different systems like [CH]-47s, UH-1s, [AH-64] Apaches, etc., and they focus on aviation support command issues for the entire Army inventory of aircraft. And they are civilians who are focused on doing just that job. They are not Lockheed people, McDonnell-Douglas people, but those people come over here to work with us in coordination with the LARS to make sure the product is doing okay,. And they are the technical ... the experts. As a matter of fact, we have a gentleman over here from Boeing who is over here, to do nothing but look at CH-47s, and he has worked with us on a lot of things. His name is Rick Mabee, and he works with us and the folks at the 101st [Airborne Division] at King Fahd. And we also have LARS assigned to help us try to make the system work and to look for problems that we're having and to help get us assistance in getting those problems rectified.
MAJ LEVIN: How many civilians came along with you?
LTC MULVENNIN: Initially no civilians came with us. When we got here we had a LAR assigned to us. And then our normal LAR out of Fort Bragg that worked with us, he just arrived in country about a week and a half ago, and so he's now over here, but he is right now presently not assigned to us. The original LAR is still with us, and the Boeing rep, he came here about 3 weeks after we arrived.
MAJ LEVIN: Have you found that you have had to rely more on your active duty people because of the lack of civilians or that they had to do things ... have your active duty people had to assume roles that they wouldn't normally assume back at Bragg?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well, since we're over here and a large number of the CH-47 fleet is over here, we've done a little bit more of what we call scrounging, trying to make the system work. Because the system is working. There are parts of the country. But we've done a lot of communication with the other like [similar] units in getting parts and keeping aircraft flyable. So we're trading parts with them. And then the problems that we're having, like problems that APUs, auxiliary power units for aircraft, things like that, things that are systemic problems that we are running into. We talk with the other units, looking at what we can do better, we get the LARS involved. Or if there are problems that are theater-wide or unit-wide that we can't solve ourselves, then they take charge and get it back on the telephone to MG Williamson, who runs AVSCOM, and try to get the solution corrected--or the solution taken care of.
MAJ LEVIN: What are some of the particular maintenance problems that are unique to this operation?
LTC MULVENNIN: We've run into ... the biggest thing we've got, of course, over here, the material, the sand itself, is not only abrasive but it's very corrosive, and so we've had to look at that. And the biggest impact we've had so far is one on the blades of the aircraft. We did the testing for the fleet over here in theater, on taping the blades, we have used a paint, an epoxy, and now we're using the tape, and we're in the process of taping all our blades and all our aircraft. We have found that this is working, it is saving the blades. That the blades that have not been taped so far at the point of almost being non-salvageable, so by taping them, by keeping them painted, we are saving the Army a lot of money, and it's ... the availability of the aircraft is going up. Normally, you'd have to change the blades every 30 hours, every 25-30 hours, just to get rid of them, because the abrasion is so bad, that it is wearing the blades away. This tape causes the sand to bounce off the blade, versus sliding the entire length of the blade cordwise, and just eating the blade away.
The other problem that we thought we were going to experience and haven't had it yet, with the exception of one aircraft, is ... that's engines. The corrosion or the abrasion is causing blade roll-over where the first stage of the blades are becoming worn by the abrasion of the sand in the air, and it is causing them dull. When that happens, you start losing performance on your aircraft.
We've had one aircraft that picked up some FOD (foreign object damage) and we had to do depot-level repair that they authorized us to do, and that was just replacing blades from the damage, like a large rock going through the engine. The biggest problem we've had, engine-wise, is not due to the environment, it is due just to manufacturing problems. There have just been some faults and some bad hardware. And we couldn't get them tested here and put on a test stand because there weren't any available in country, and the Lycoming rep, whose engines we used, there was only one here for the tank engines, and they were not able to work on the aircraft engines. So since then the AVSCOM and them have established an engine repair center here in theater which is down in Abu Dhabi, and there they have a maintenance test stand. Before that you had to go all the way back to Corpus Christi to the depot.
The other problems that we are having is just corrosion, and that is just by ... every day we use approximately 6,000 gallons of water to wash our aircraft. My guidance is to wash aircraft as much as possible, and when you fly, come back and try to flush your engines to keep the salt and the corrosion down to a minimum. And it seems to be working pretty well.
MAJ LEVIN: How long does it take to wash an aircraft?
LTC MULVENNIN: To wash an entire aircraft and an engine wash, by the time you get the thing emptied out and stuff, just washing the aircraft itself, you are talking a couple of hours. Because you have to disconnect some hoses and stuff to flush the engines out as well as you get up there with a broom or brushes, and get out all the sand, and, on a windy day, by the time you get done washing it, you've got mud hanging off of it because of the sand in the air. But it does pay off to wash the aircraft, and especially it has paid off in the engine flushes to keep ... and put the gas path, which is a solvent which goes through there and cleans out all the garbage and dirt out of the internal engine. It has done a good job for us so far.
MAJ LEVIN: What particular part of the engine is failing the most?
VOICE: Well what you are having is the blades, the compressor blades meeting that sand, and when it does that, you get what you call blade rollover, you are wearing down the blade, so ... .
MAJ LEVIN: So that blade is in the engine, not in the main rotors?
LTC MULVENNIN: Right. That is in the engine and there are several stages of blades, and the initial couple of stages are taking the brunt of the sand that is in the air, and it is just dulling the blades to the point where they are not razor sharp like they normally are, and then you start losing performance on your engine. So far, we've been very fortunate.
Initially, when we came into country, the 101st had been having some problems. They were talking about an improved particle separator called the EPS, the enhanced particle separator, which would go on each aircraft and that is supposed to reduce the amount of dust and sand going into the aircraft, but that probably won't happen until February, if then--trying to get the parts, the kits, in to put them on the aircraft. And what that will do is increase the weight of the aircraft by 250 pounds per engine, and then it is also--we've been told, and some of the tests have shown--that will degrade the capability of the aircraft as much as ten percent on a hot day. So we are waiting for that.
MAJ LEVIN: Not looking forward to that part of it.
LTC MULVENNIN: We've sustained ... Bragg ... Fort Bragg, the unit at Fort Bragg flies in a very dirty environment anyway out there on the ranges. Lots of dirt and dust. It is not as abrasive but we are ... right now we are not having the problems that we thought we were going to have without the particle separator. No Chinook has one in theater, and we are all doing a pretty good job. As a matter of fact, my maintenance rate here is higher than it is at Bragg, and that's basically because I'm not ... I don't have to worry about post support details, police calls as much, the PT [physical training]. I am running 24-hour operations and so my PT has gone down to the squad and individual levels because there is really nowhere I can run a battalion-size or company-size formation because I'm off post and can't ... transportation requirements. So the unit just focused at lower-level PT and just making sure that folks do it. And as a matter of fact, we are getting a lot more done that way.
MAJ LEVIN: Do you envision, when you go back to Fort Bragg, that you are going to run PT that way again?
LTC MULVENNIN: There is no doubt in my mind that we will go back to post support and all the other things that you have to do, the required steps, back at Fort Bragg, as well as ... unit level PT is not bad. It builds morale. Over here we have a problem. One, we don't have enough transportation to get everybody at one location at the same time, or even the next three trips in ... half-an-hour round trips. And plus the threat level where we're at, you just can't run a unit formation along the streets. So we focused at doing it on an individual or squad level (maximum) size PT, just to make sure the chain of command keeps the folks busy. And it seems to work. We went out and acquired some weight sets, we have a basketball court, volleyball court, swimming pool (which we don't use a lot right now). So people are staying fit and we do a lot of running, and that's ... and it seems like a pretty healthy environment.
When we get back to the States, we'll go back into the same mold we were in when we left. The unit PT three times a week at a minimum, except for the people who need additional training, and then of course we'll hit the post support. That's natural. And they get, you know, a couple more details that you had to do. But over here at the ... it's proven that the Army can do a lot if it has to, in any kind of environment.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Let's get back to the maintenance. One of the things that came out in talking to the operations officer the other day had to do with the oil seals on the blades.
LTC MULVENNIN: Blade seals? That's been ... we've found that we've had a problem with that, especially when it was hotter. We had a lot of expansion going on and contraction, differences in temperatures. And what happens when you start flying through this dirt, and you get this expansion and contraction, sand gets in where the seals are, and then when you start to set back up, you have a gap there because of the sand. And we have found that that might be due to the speed of the aircraft. So we have reduced the speed down to 120 knots unless it was absolutely necessary in the hot weather, and that has reduced the number of seals that we've had to go through or use, and has kept the leaking down tremendously. Of course, now it's cooling off a little bit, and we haven't had the problem with seals that we had initially.
MAJ LEVIN: You mentioned the changing oil weight also.
LTC MULVENNIN: That's true. We have gone to heavier oil, fluid, and of course with that in mind we are not having the leaking we were having. We have learned a lot. We have learned how to change engines, and we have learned how to change blades. We are very fast at changing blades now, and I am going to tell you that the unit will be, as far as training and being able to maintain the aircraft for the unit, we have come a long ways in doing that, because that's what we folks are doing every day, all day, with no disrupters, and having to change blades used to be almost an all-day task. And now we have soldiers who can strip down blades in a couple of hours, just due to the fact that moving to port, putting them back on when we got here, and changing continually to put new blades on and taping blades, etc., and changing seals. So it's ... we've learned a heck of a lot. Good cross-training going on.
MAJ LEVIN: One of the things that has been of very keen interest has been the actual flying. And not just the flying conditions, but navigation and that sort of thing. What ... can you see a difference in the way flying took place early on as opposed to how it is going now?
LTC MULVENNIN: We have a lot more confidence now than we had initially. We've got ... it's in my policy when flying at night ... of course, it is the Corps Commander's policy that we don't fly below 150 feet unless your making a take off or making descent for landing, based on the initial accidents we had. Of course, we never had an accident, but the accidents they had within the Corps. I've made it a policy at night I always fly with a crew of three up front, three pilots. One sitting in the jump seat to maintain ... help them regain their confidence in flying at night. It gives them the flexibility to have somebody there to change frequencies, talk on the radio, to monitor the engine instruments ... our normal operating instruments as well as the altimeters, so the pilots can focus on seeing outside the aircraft. The Doppler and Omega [radar] systems that we use for navigation over here, the ones that we have Omega in, the Doppler seems to be a very reliable system. The pilots have no problem in navigating, even if they have to use a map, if we have go en route. The maps we have found to be outdated and in most cases off. But we have established good routes for navigation; they're easy routes, and we fly them continually and have no problems. And of course we always fly on the map as well as backing up with some kind of navigation system in the aircraft. So that hasn't been a problem.
As far as mission profiles, essentially the same as what we had when we were back at Bragg. However, we found that we have had to talk to the supported unit and telling them that we just can't pick up a howitzer or two sitting out there in the middle of the desert because of the sand conditions. We just can't see. So we are trying to tell them to either work off sebkas, salt flats; or off of hardball roads, and close the road down; or some improved pad area or something that has got spray on it to keep the dirt down. Because we have found that it is not ... one, you can't do it; and, two, if you damage an aircraft engine at $650-700,000 per engine, it's just not worth doing that mission. So we are looking at ... we try to work with each customer and tell them the best way to do it and how we should do it, and we do the same way in the war. So we try to educate them on that.
MAJ LEVIN: Has that been a problem for them?
LTC MULVENNIN: No, they are adapting to that. And we have been working really hard at doing that and the Corps supports us also, saying, hey, you are going to have to listen and here's how you're going to have to do it, because if not, you're not going to have these aircraft around later on when the war breaks out or if the war breaks out, because you just can't suck up all that sand and expect them to continue to operate.
So ... but we've got a good flying hours situation over here. We've got good training. We have had ... there has been ... we have had to have every pilot Saudi-qualified: he goes out and does approaches day and night in the sand to make himself familiar with the situation, with an IP [instructor pilot] on board, and then just ... . Of course, we've been over here flying for three months now, so have pretty well adapted ourselves, and it is becoming a normal routine, just like anywhere else, and every day our proficiency increases.
MAJ LEVIN: What kind of missions are you flying primarily?
LTC MULVENNIN: Primarily, we've been flying a lot of support missions for the 82d. We flew the President's mission, thirteen aircraft that day. We have been doing a lot of the "Desert Express" moving high priority cargo at night, which are all night-vision goggle missions. And just other kinds of sling-load missions and resupply missions. So we are getting a little of everything.
MAJ LEVIN: Have you found the demands to be more or less than a normal exercise at Fort [Bragg]?
LTC MULVENNIN: Well the demands are more because the distances that we are flying are greater. We are flying average missions, probably three to four hours per mission, because the fact is that some of the missions are just a long ways away. When you fly more hours you have to pull more maintenance, so that has increased the level of maintenance we've done. But the more you fly a CH-47, the better it stays flyable, the easier it stays. They're a workhorse, and you can keep them flying. You fly them, they'll keep flying. And we haven't had the problems I thought we would have. And like I said, our maintenance rate has been high, higher than it was in the States. And we averaged over 90 percent. We are not averaging that now because I'm bringing the aircraft down arbitrarily to get the tape on the blades in case we have to go out and sustain ourselves in a combat environment. So I am bringing aircraft down to get that done and do that preventive maintenance now that we have to do, that I don't want to have to worry about later.
MAJ LEVIN: SGM, is there anything that you would like to add on that?
CSM KING: Well, not so much about the aircraft. I think the colonel's covered that well. But one of the things also is that our wheeled vehicles care. We've had some problems with those, getting them in here; problems with bearings. But we have done a super job recovering those, and just last week I was talking, like the colonel said, about bringing aircraft down. We are already in the process of bringing all our vehicles back into the motor pool one at a time and doing services and everything earlier than they really should be. But because of the environment, the sand, and everything else, if we don't narrow that gap, we won't make it to the next service and start having problems with those. So we haven't had a lot of problems with vehicles other than the sand thing. But I think we are doing the preventive maintenance that we are doing and moving everything forward will prevent us from having that problem later on.
MAJ LEVIN: What kind of ... are there any particular vehicles that seem to show more problems than others?
CSM KING: No. I don't think ... there is not anything that is unique, that stands out on the vehicles that are a key factor or a key problem, like a couple of things we've talked about earlier.
MAJ LEVIN: What about the tower that you have, the portable tower. How has that fared through all of this?
LTC MULVENNIN: The portable tower is not mine. It belongs to the 58th ATC [Air Traffic Control] ... the 1st Battalion, 58th [Aviation] (ATC). That's LTC Hill's outfit. And of course they are assigned to this brigade. But they have sat up there initially and they haven't got a problem. And of course they're running ATC support--air traffic control support--throughout the theater right now. I'd say most of the theater, throughout the corps for sure.
Of course now you have the VII Corps coming in. And they have done more talking on the radio and worked with more aircraft in the last three to four months than they have worked in a five- or six-year period of time. And they have been able to sustain themselves quite well. Their biggest problem is keeping their radios up and their generators. Because generators over here are ... with the sand in the air they are having more difficulty keeping filters, and keeping them running. But we have had no problem with those folks, they've done a good job for us. And they are there to stay.
MAJ LEVIN: Very good. So ... very good. Looking down the road, is there anything in particular that you are anticipating as this operation goes forward? Any ... for instance, if this thing goes 'hot,' are you anticipating any sudden changes in the way that you are operating, or ... ?
LTC MULVENNIN: I would venture to say, without getting into any other levels above this, is that, of course, we're not going to fight the war from here. I would venture to say that if the war were to break out, which from what all I've heard or read in the newspapers, it can start off with an air campaign. We'll be moving to someplace else, where we can support it.
[END OF TAPE ONE]
MAJ LEVIN: This is tape two of the interview with LTC Mulvennin, commander of 2[d] of the 159[th] Aviation ... battalion.
LTC MULVENNIN: I've lost my train of thought there for a second.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay, you said there was another Chinook unit --
LTC MULVENNIN: There is another Chinook unit here from Fort Hood, and it is a three-ship company ... I mean, a three-company battalion, one company being reservist which has been reactivated, and they are due here any day. And they are going to pick up the ARCENT mission and echelons above Corps. So with that in mind, I am sure we will probably not fight the war from this location. So I can see that if the war were to break out, we would relocate to an area where we could support the Corps in the mission that it is going to do. And other than that, there is not much I can say about ... we're going to be doing the same sort of stuff, probably for the [82d Airborne] Division, that we are doing now. However, there is always the option to be attached [or] OPCON to [under the operational control of] some other unit for periods of time, and I am prepared to split my units to go their merry way for small periods of time to support other elements in accomplishing missions, and I can't really say any more about that at this time.
MAJ LEVIN: All right, very good. SGM [King] is there anything you'd like to add?
CSM KING: No, just that this battalion, and all that we've done since we've been notified to come over here in August, and the training that we've had with the guys and with the air crews, and what they've done since they've been here, there is no doubt that this battalion and the soldiers are ready to go and do the job that we have come here to do. And I think that we'll do a super job with whatever we are called upon to go out and do.
MAJ LEVIN: Who else do you think it would be important to have interviewed?
LTC MULVENNIN: Would you want to talk to somebody who has got a lot of experience in dealing with the Saudis? They can tell you that this is a problem ... the biggest area of concern for everybody over here ... it is logistics ... and that would probably be Hackler, CPT Roger Hackler. He's the one I went to school with. He's the guy who can tell you what we've gone through, because he's the guy who made the deployment possible and did a lot of the coordination at the port, over here at the port, as well as the guy who can tell you all that stuff, the problems logistically and what we had to do maintenance-wise as well as supply-wise. And he's ... he's ... without him it would have been a difficult task at best. He's a real professional, hard-working young man.
MAJ LEVIN: Okay. Are there any other important points that I may have neglected to bring up, or may have overlooked?
LTC MULVENNIN: I can't think of anything, and I'd certainly like to say we have done our mission over here, and I'd like to think that our big mission was of course to deter war. I hope that still comes about, but if not there is no doubt in my mind that we are ready to go. We are prepared to go, even if there is some shortage in equipment ... we can easily do our mission and my promise was to the families before we left and the soldiers ... I plan on bringing everybody back the same way I took them. No casualties. And that is our goal, to work as a team and to ... if we have to go do it, we'll do it and do it well, and bring everybody home the same way they got on the airplane. And that is our focus ... working together as a team, keeping the soldiers in the right direction. I've got some great leaders, so we don't have any problems. They make my job very easy.
MAJ LEVIN: That's good. Very good. Okay. SGM [King], anything?
CSM KING: No. That's all, sir.
MAJ LEVIN: All right. That concludes the interview with LTC Mulvennin and SGM King. Gentlemen, thank you for your time.
VOICES: Thank you.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
1. Actually, Defense Reutilization Management Office.
2. MAJ Rossi was later killed in an accident during the ground offensive.