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 044
MAJ Johnny L. Asbury
Logistical Operations Officer
507th Support Group, 1st Support Command
Interview Conducted 26 February 1991 at Logistical Base CHARLIE, Northern Province, Saudi Arabia
Interviewers: MAJ Robert B. Honec, III, and SSG LaDona S. Kirkland (116th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 044
MAJ HONEC: This is an Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM interview. I am MAJ Robert B. Honec, along with SSG LaDona S. Kirkland, of the 116th Military History Detachment. We are here today at the 507th Support Group, Log[istical] Base CHARLIE. It is the 26th of February, 1991. We are talking here with--and, sir, would you state your full name, social security number, unit, position, and how long you have been in your position. For the record.
MAJ ASBURY: My name is Johnny Lee Asbury, ***-**-****. I am Log[istical] Operations Officer for the 507th. I have been in this position approximately nine months.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, thank you, MAJ Asbury.
Coming ... starting at Fort Bragg, [North Carolina], you have been in Logistics Operations. Can you give me, for the record, an idea of the planning that you needed to accomplish and dates for the deployment out here, here at Saudi Arabia, and then we will bring it forward from there. Go ahead.
MAJ ASBURY: Okay. Deploying from Fort Bragg: we first had to concentrate on what elements had to be deployed out from Bragg and then what logistical support was required in order to accomplish the deployment. The 507th was basically responsible for pushing all the 82d Airborne Division and the remaining elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps from Fort Bragg, using both Pope Air Force Base, [North Carolina], and the seaport of Wilmington.
In doing that, we had to establish what we call a Corps logistical inspection station for all non-div or non-divisional units to go through for equipment checks. We also ran the airfield portion, deploying all Army elements out of there. I basically concentrated on getting the wheeled equipment to the seaport to get them deployed over by sea.
In doing that, we ran ... in conjunction with that, we also ran what we call a supply operation point, and that is where all the units from Fort Bragg brought in supplies and stuff that they wanted shipped forward, and we palletized it and put it on cargo birds to be shipped over here. That was in addition to the numerous amounts of supplies that we shipped out of Fort Bragg in order to support the contingency force that arrived here first, which was the 82d Airborne Division along with its support elements.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, besides the 82d and the support elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps, did you have to plan for CAPSTONE-traced units? Were all the units you were planning ... also looking forward to on your CAPSTONE?
MAJ ASBURY: No, that was a very tough thing to kind of figure out, especially for the planners back at Bragg. Upon deploying from Fort Bragg, we knew of some of the units that would become a part of the group. However, the majority of the units we have today, we had no knowledge that they were going to be a part of us.
For example, we knew that we would have a composite battalion of aviation maintenance. We knew that. We knew that we would have an ordnance battalion, and we knew who that ordnance battalion was and who that aviation maintenance battalion was, but the POL [petroleum, oil and lubricants] battalion and the water battalion. And at the particular time I arrived here we had the postal or the [18th] Personnel and Administration Battalion underneath us, and we knew that we were getting additional companies for them. But other than that, that is about the bulk of it.
We found out as plans continued over here and as the people arrived in country, because a number of units arrived in country without anybody realizing they were coming because they were not even on the TPPFD [time-phased force deployment]. So as they arrived in country, decisions were made and more than us planning, the 507th planning, the rear group, as they want to say, we picked up a lot of additional units.
MAJ HONEC: Would you define your TPPFDL [time-phased force deployment list], what that means, if you know?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, I can't recall the acronym right off the top of my head, but what it really means is, the number of units that has really been alerted to deploy forward or to Saudi Arabia in order ... developing the force.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, and how would you say these units ... how helpful was TPPFDL to your planning effort?
MAJ ASBURY: Unfortunately, the TPPFDL was of very little use because we could, early on in the stage of the game, we could never get a real good TPPFDL. We had a number of units on the TPPFDL that really wasn't scheduled to deploy, and those that were scheduled to deploy, a number of them was not on TPPFDL.
And during an operation like this, just like any other operation of this magnitude, you can expect that kind of confusion up front. Because as we were planning, we were also deploying. Changes were made. For example, this unit does not need to get there as early as this unit, or maybe this unit may not need to come at all. So units were eliminated and units were added up until we got in-country and even after that. As a need or a task or a mission was identified, and an evaluation was conducted to see if we had the assets on the ground to accomplish that mission. If it wasn't on the ground, then they went back to put that on the TPPFDL and brought the units into country.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, could you give me a quick idea of the condition of the units coming over here? Were they 100 percent strength, 100 percent in equipment, and also all their stockages?
MAJ ASBURY: Most of the Reserve units that we received, which most of our units were composed of Reserve and National Guard units. Most of them were C-[3 or 4] level units, meaning that they were about 75 percent or less with personnel and equipment. For example, the 758th, which is a maintenance battalion, arrived in country to us with no ASL and about only 150 of about 225 or 230 personnel that they ... that was assigned.
MAJ HONEC: ASL is authorized stockage list?
MAJ ASBURY: Stockage list, yes. Excuse me.
MAJ HONEC: That is quite all right.
MAJ ASBURY: The water detachments, for example, they deployed into country without any type of water equipment. Their water equipment was packaged in the States and shipped over here, and upon arriving in country they were issued their water equipment. Most of them had no experience at all on this equipment, so prior to deploying them, what we had to do was draw their equipment, inventory the equipment to ensure that the package was complete, and then we took them out to Half Moon Bay1 and set them up out there and they trained on that equipment.
MAJ HONEC: This equipment that you drew, what percentage was shipped short? Were they complete packages?
MAJ ASBURY: Most of them, I would say, was about 85 percent complete. I guess the reason being because these were some new units that the Army had purchased, which is 150K, 150,000 [gallons] per day water units that the Army saw a need and went out and purchased, but had not been tested to a great extent. Even though the packages were complete and they did come with repair parts, there was very little repair parts in the system to replenish those which you use as you use the system.
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, how long was the training?
MAJ ASBURY: Training, we trained them for about 30 days, 30 to 45 days, and then ...
SSG KIRKLAND: Oh, I'm sorry.
MAJ ASBURY: Go ahead.
SSG KIRKLAND: Was this hands-on training?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, this is hands-on training. As a matter of fact, the ARCENT [US Army Central Command] part of central Army point of contact for water, which is now LTC Haas, developed this training program and brought all the water detachments together out at Half Moon Bay, and they trained for approximately 30 days. And then after those 30 days, we deployed our first detachment and they set up their first water site, which was at what we call GUARDIAN CITY out by King Fahd International Airport.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, LTC Haas, how do you pronounce ... how do you spell his name? Do you know?
MAJ ASBURY: That is H-a- ... I think it is H-a-a-s, I think it is.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. These units drew their equipment, trained on it, then set up. Did they set up extensive water operations to continue to operate their equipment, or was it ... were they ... how much support did these units use in the beginning, provide in the beginning.
MAJ ASBURY: Well, initially they started out pumping about, issuing about, 250,000 gallons a day to various units in that particular sector. Plus what we did in addition to that is that we took a medium truck company, and in the civilian world that is equivalent to a tractor-trailer which consists of about 52 tractors and trailers, and we attached that element to the water battalion, and these individuals, with 5,000 ... what we call SMTMTs, and they are basically long objects that holds about 5,000 gallons of water, and we distribute it out to the various units as they acquire or have storage space on the ground.
MAJ HONEC: I see. These are, what you are referring to, are bladder-like bags?
MAJ ASBURY: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Of water.
MAJ ASBURY: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: That lay on a flatbed.
MAJ ASBURY: SMTMT stands for semi-trailer mounted tank. And they distribute water out to the various elements, and we support it on an area basis, so in that area they supported individuals in that area. As units came into the country and was further employed out into the desert, we picked up ... the mission grew. So we went from one water site, for example, to two water sites; and from two water sites to three water sites. It was ... the magnitude of it was great.
Then simultaneously we were, at the APOD [aerial port of departure], as the different classes of supplies came in, we were also required to push those supplies out to the various units on the ground. Now ... go ahead.
MAJ HONEC: Well, let's, before we go on to the APOD--the moving of cargo operation, the various classes of supply-- let's close out the water situation. Host nation support: did you find the wells you needed through the host nation, or how did you go about it? Was it adequate water?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, in most cases. Most wells that we found was adequate supply. They were deep enough to supply an adequate supply of water. We worked through our headquarters, which is the 1st (Corps) Support Command, along with ARCENT, LTC Haas, to identify these wells, and of course the G-5 would go out and interface with the owner of the well, and then the MEPO [Middle Eastern Procurement Office] guys would come in and develop a contract with them.
Before we could pump any water off of that well, though, we had to send in a preventive medicine team to check the water source to make sure that it was, I guess, fit for water production. So they would come in and run a test on it, and that test would be ... we had to wait, I think, 24 hours before, a minimum of 24 hours, before the results. And once the results came back, then if they were favorable or positive, we would go into water production.
MAJ HONEC: These were deep wells? They were deep wells. Were they all adequate?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes. You know, on the eastern side of Saudi Arabia you find most of the watercourses and the water tables are very high, so at that point in time water production was not ... it was not a war-stopper at that point in time. The further you would move west, then the lower the water tables become.
For example, we have two wells right up about two clicks [kilometers], three clicks up the road here. One of them a couple of days ago started pumping oil. You could find little traces of oil in the water, so we had to stop pumping from that particular well. So we found the further you move west, the lower the water table and the tougher it is to find a well deep enough to provide the type of water quality and efficiency that we need to support the Corps.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. When you came over from CONUS [Continental United States], you came to [Ad] Dammam, is that correct? And also when you set up your operations, did you have adequate buildings, warehouses, whatever, to do what you needed to do to set up a temporary area?
MAJ ASBURY: Most of our operations initially was in an austere environment: very dusty, no buildings which to work out of, just a piece of ground which was selected for us to operate out of and stage supplies. That's it. And the longer we stayed, buildings started to develop, and most of the ... some of the buildings were built by the soldiers themselves.
We went in, for example, at one point down by the airfield where our cargo transfer company, the 403d [Transportation Company], was located at. We took some old buildings, abandoned buildings, and went in and built the structures up and used those as temporary warehouses. So that is the type of environment that we worked with.
MAJ HONEC: This would have been Dhahran Airport?
MAJ ASBURY: Right, Dhahran Airport.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, now could you expound upon a little bit of the cargo, the various class operations that you had to set up? Did you have enough equipment to do that? Did you have enough space to plan for that? You had planned for these types of operations, of course, but could you give an idea of what things you had to do to accomplish your mission?
MAJ ASBURY: Space has always been a problem, especially in the Dhahran area, especially because of the ... I guess the nature of the beast, in which we had to go to acquire the type of land or space that was needed for an operation. We had to go out, search, find what we thought was an adequate area to do supply operations, and then once that was identified, then we had to go submit a request through the appropriate channels, through contracting, to acquire that piece of space.
It went from there into negotiations between the U.S. Government and the Saudi Government, and if they could reach a happy medium of a price range, then that land could be acquired. But it got to be a very slow and long, drawn-out process in order to acquire the type of space needed to do supply operations. And in most cases the amount of supplies, of the areas that we did acquire, the amount of supplies that was brought in was way over the volume that that area could actually hold. So in most cases the area that we acquired was too small for the amount of supplies that came in the country that we had to store.
We had basically three operations. We had [Classes] II-IV-VII operations, which was operated by the 406th [Supply Company (General)]. We had a Class IX operation (warehouse) which was operated by the 249th [Supply Company (Repair Parts)]. And then we had aircraft, the intensively managed items, which is your high dollar value items, which is mostly associated with aircraft, that was also managed by the 249th, but that was up at King Fahd International Airport
In all these instances, the space that was provided to do these jobs was not sufficient for the amount of supplies that flowed into those areas.
MAJ HONEC: I see. During this time there was the constant threat of war the next day, with the situation here. That had no impact on smoothing over these rough spots, getting the job ... you know, getting things done? Instead, it still took a long time to get this particular space needed?
MAJ ASBURY: Oh, yes. Even then we had to go through the appropriate channels to acquire the type of terrain that we needed to host these facilities, understanding that the threat of war was here but also understanding that we are visitors into this country, and it required that we go through the necessary process to obtain the type of terrain we needed to do these facilities.
MAJ HONEC: I see. Okay. Now to continue with one more question on the deployment and the issues that you had had to deal with, deployment and then coming over here and finding ... . Is there anything else that you can add to about the deployment planning and how you had to modify it when you got over here?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, coming into country, understanding the role that the military was to play, we came in basically to defend Saudi Arabia. So with that, we planned and structured ourselves to do this thing.
To do that, we knew coming over here that we would have to bring elements into country, assist in pushing them out along with their supplies, and then once we got them into position, provide continuous sustainment for them such as Class I, and this is rations, such as [Classes] II [and]
IV--cold weather gear, underwear, sleeping bags, things of that nature. We realized that that would be a continuous thing, so we were all programmed to do that and do that accordingly. We pushed quite a bit of fuel to a number of elements. So we knew that sustainment was going to be a part of the requirement here, and we planned as such and the force was structured as such to do so.
Then all of a sudden we went from defense to an offensive operation, which no one had anticipated we would do. And as that came about, you know it has been quite a while, I think since World War II has been about the last time we have been on an offensive against an enemy. So that within itself brought about a dramatic change in how we do business. Basically we sat down and looked at what was required to make the operation go.
In an offensive operation, you want to go light, as light as possible. Normally there is three classes of supplies that you really zero in on in an offensive mode, whereas in a defensive mode you zero in on rations, you have got to look at barrier material, you have got to look at Class IX for sustainment. But on the offensive mode you look basically at Class V, Class III, and Class I. Those are the three basic items that you concentrate on, because these are the items that is needed by the combat elements in order to get their mission done.
So we had to look at how we were going to accomplish the mission of supplying these items while we still continued to support elements in various areas. For example, we were required to move--we had to do this thing in phases, so it was required for us to move, in order to accomplish, while setting up this base it was necessary that we pre-stage a lot of equipment. And along with pre-staging equipment, it was also necessary to pre-stage units in order to accomplish the mission that had to be done up here.
So for ammo, for example, we hauled ammo from two different ASPs [ammunition supply points] to a CSA [corps storage area] up at KKMC [King Khalid Military City], and we put about 18.6 thousand short tons on the ground of ammunition, in order to prepare to come up here. So that was a big transition, doing that, and still providing the basic needs to the elements down in Dhahran and what we called the [Assembly Area] PULASKI and [Forward Operating Base] BASTOGNE areas. So that was a real task.
We have five truck companies, really seven truck companies attached to us. We have two heavies and then five medium truck companies to accomplish the mission. In this whole equation, the long pole in the tent has been transportation. So what we did was, we dedicated basically two truck companies for hauling ammunition, and then we pulled a lot of our internal assets in to move units to Log Base BRAVO, and that is something that we had not anticipated doing. But in order to accomplish the mission and to meet the time lines that had been established, it was necessary that we do these kinds of things.
So simultaneously we were moving ammo; we were moving supplies; and we were moving units and unit equipment to pre-positioned areas--and that was a real task. But we got there and did a great job of getting there. We didn't anticipate that we were going to do as well as we did.
As soon as we got there, then we got the word that Log Base CHARLIE ... we knew we were coming to Log Base CHARLIE, and sometime a couple of weeks ahead of time, for sure, and this put us--put the group in a great position to establish Log Base CHARLIE. And from Log Base CHARLIE we did the same thing. We moved in units, equipment and supplies simultaneously and built this thing. No one thought that we would build this Log Base as fast as we did, and to be honest with you, I didn't think we would. But with all the assets pulling together, I would say within about a week we had just an outstanding amount of supplies on the ground here, and of course it took everybody to do that, to make that go.
So that is the biggest transition. Moving from Bragg, you are deploying units. Once arriving in country, you are clearing those areas that are needed in order to receive more supplies and to bring more units. Then you are moving out and you are deploying elements out into the desert. Then you are sustaining them while they are in the desert with the various classes of supplies, to include water. And then you are transitioning from a defensive role into an offense role, and the various moves that were required in order to do that. Needless to say, it required a lot of flexibility and agility to accomplish that.
MAJ HONEC: I can imagine. Did you have flowing into the port adequate supplies across the board, in the various class areas?
MAJ ASBURY: No.
MAJ HONEC: How did that change the plan, then?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, you know, you basically have got to look and assess the situation and then take appropriate actions to solve whatever problem it is. For example, when we first got on board here we had from Fort Bragg, to clear the port, 20 trucks--only 20 trucks to move this massive mound of supplies, so therefore that was a shortfall in transportation.
However, to make up that shortfall, ARCENT provided us a number of trucks through the host nation program, so the first couple of months here, that is how we got the bulk of the sustainment accomplished, was through host nation support, where they would go out and contract the local nationals here to haul supplies from one area to the next. So that is how we got things done, accomplished, and here again it required a lot of flexibility.
Class IX repair parts was a real big thing because we came over with what was required. But the XVIII Airborne Corps is not a heavy Corps, so therefore you have elements coming in from the 24th Infantry Division, which is armor-heavy, and the heaviest element that we support is the 82d Airborne Division, which is very light. So there is a big difference between the requirements there. Here you have a Corps that is used to supporting a light division, and now you are required to support a heavy division. So that required both us and the MMC [Materiel Management Center] to re-look requirements and try to requisition those repair parts that were required to keep the tanks rolling. And in a number of cases you are talking about some huge quantities of Class IX repair parts--tank engines, transmissions, transfers, deuce and a half [2.5-ton truck] engines, you know, all those type of things. So we had to re-look the ASL that we were stocking and basically revamp it to suit the needs of the Corps.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, covering Class IX, but--and do I understand there was fairly ... there was no significant shortages in any of the classes that you needed to accomplish your support role?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, Class III, you know, was fairly plentiful over here, because that is supplied through our host nation contract. Whenever we needed it, we went through the MMC, acquired the necessary documentation, and then drove down to the tank farm and picked up whatever we wanted.
Class IX--I mean Class I, which is rations, you know the cycle.2 Basically everybody expected to eat MRE [Meal, Ready-to-Eat], MRE, MRE. But after you have been here for a while, MREs kind of become distasteful, especially if you have got to cross the LD [line of departure] and that is all you are going to eat once you cross the LD. So therefore we went to Ts [Tray Rations] and Bs [Unit packaged fresh foods] and something new that the Army went out and bought off the shelf, which is MOREs [Meals, Organizational, Ready-to-Eat], and provided that type of mixture for the soldiers.
However, though, Ts and Bs was not in great supply. The manufacturer could not keep up with the requirement, so for a period of time there the most that we had on the ground was MREs. As a result, the Army went out and purchased these MOREs, which consist of really a little TV dinner and little snack boxes with it, to go along with it, to supplement the Ts, Bs, and the MREs. So there was a shortage there in the MRE or in the ration area, but as time progressed, manufacturers were able to meet the demands, and now we are pretty much on track.
MAJ HONEC: Did you have enough refrigeration equipment, say, for the Class A's [fresh food], whatever?
MAJ ASBURY: Class A's was never a problem, because we did not serve Class As through a Corps means. Class As were provided to units on a Theater Army level, and the units as necessary or as they required went out and contracted through Central Army for their Class As, and their Class As were delivered directly to the users.
However, we are equipped, though, with the 18th Quartermaster Detachment, and this 18th Quartermaster Detachment possesses refrigeration, both walk-in type and reefers, so we were prepared to accomplish the mission. However, we were not required to do so because of the host nation support that we got.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Could you ... before leaving Class I, are there any other things you would like to illuminate? Perhaps the host nation support for the outright gifts to the military troops, to our troops, from the King3 that we have heard about? Was that a ... did that come in quantity, and at what times did that? I am talking about the soda pop, the candy, etc. Or were those all contracted by us to support?
MAJ ASBURY: That I can't talk to.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, okay.
MAJ ASBURY: Because I have very little knowledge of what portion of that the King paid for and what portion we went out and contracted for. That I can't talk to. That is more of an ARCENT level.
MAJ HONEC: It is? Okay.
MAJ ASBURY: They know about those type of things. The only thing we did was basically receive the items and then issue them out.
MAJ HONEC: So you did not know any of the origin of these. They could be from a variety of sources.
MAJ ASBURY: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Class II: personal equipment, TA-50 [Common Table of Allowances 50-909 items] and what not, the shortages in that ... could you talk about the various levels of availability of various items that you ... ?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, initially when we got here, shipped over here prior was winter clothing, because we knew we were coming over, we would be in the environment, in the desert here during the winter months, so we wanted to make sure the soldiers had adequate winter gear. So that was shipped over. And after being over for a while, they decided that they wanted to issue underwear and stuff, so that came in in great abundance. As a matter of fact, it overwhelmed our general supply company, which is the 406th, who stored all this stuff and then turned around and issued the majority of it out.
And then you had your cold weather parka that came in. They issued blankets and all that kind of stuff. Most of this stuff did not come over with us. This is stuff that was requisitioned and came in after we arrived over here. Along with that, we asked for CTA-50 for replacement and all that, but what we basically did was issue it to the various DSUs [direct support units], and we got involved in that because it came in, we received it, stored it, and then issued it to the various DSUs as directed to do so.
But there is an adequate, I would say, supply of CTA-50 plus cold weather gear in hand. Now what really becomes the problem is sizes. You know, either we have too many of this size or too few of this size. And that was the big problem when it came to your underwear, when it came to your parkas, and to include your CPOGs [chemical protective overgarments]. In a lot of cases we did not have an adequate supply of the sizes that was required to equip everybody. So as a result, a soldier might have got a size too big or the soldier may have gotten a size too small. Then what we did ... what was required ... the units had to cross-level within [internally] in order to make up that shortfall.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, that is for cold weather. What about desert-specific items, the DCUs [desert camouflage uniforms], the hats, the boots? What was ... ?
MAJ ASBURY: DCUs were always in short, even before leaving the States. The manufacturer could not keep up with the demand, so what we had to do was, those that we had, those quantities that we had, we issued them out to units prior to leaving Fort Bragg; and then those that did not get them, we tried to give each soldier at least two, with two being the lowest, four being the highest that any one soldier would have. So those that we did not issue to at Fort Bragg, we shipped over here and tried to catch them over here and issue them to them. But DCUs always have been in short from day one, and here again we ran into the same problem with sizes. We either had too many of these or too few of these, and that was where most of the problems were.
SSG KIRKLAND: What size did you have too many of?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, you have small, extra small, extra large, and those are the sizes that you mostly had the problems with, because everybody mostly falls in between: medium, large, somewhere in that area, or extra large. And then you have got extra-extra large, also an area that we have some problems with.
SSG KIRKLAND: Did you have these problems in stocking desert boots, or just regular, routine things like that?
MAJ HONEC: A good point, SSG Kirkland.
MAJ ASBURY: Desert boots: here again it was decided late that we would issue everybody's desert boots, which requires that you go back and let a contract, and the contract has to go into manufacture these, and they become available as they are manufactured. So right now there is not enough boots on hand to give every soldier a pair of desert boots. I think we had 7,000--5,000 or 7,000--on hand, and those have been issued out, and they are expecting some here recently, but there was enough adequate of jungle boots I know that you see everybody wearing now. Everybody has got on their overshoes now,4 but the jungle boots such as these are very plentiful. We have no problem with those. Everybody was issued at least one pair of those before coming over, so they are in great supply. But the desert boots, that is a matter of the manufacturer producing them and catching up with the demand, rather than anything else.
SSG KIRKLAND: What about those soldiers whose boots are wearing out? Do you have plenty of boots on hand?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, yes, we have plenty of boots on hand to replace them. They may not get their desert boots, but we have boots on hand to issue, yes.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, all right. That covers Class I and II. Anything to add besides that to any of the classes of supplies that you had to ... you had in your planning being available, but had to perhaps change your planning or modify for an overabundance or an under-abundance of any other classes of supply?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, you know, we ... I have talked about all but one critical class of supply, and that is Class V.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. Please talk about that.
MAJ ASBURY: Class V has been a problem since we have been here, to the point of having a sufficient quantity of certain DODAACs [Department of Defense Ammunition Activity Codes]. You know the Army runs off of DODAACs, you know, and it is identification really of the round that an individual ... that is in the Army's inventory.
We have, for example, 155[mm] rounds for the artillery. We have an abundance of those items. We have an abundance of MLRS [M-270 Multiple Launch Rocket System rounds] on hand. But your more specialized type weapons like the missile ... TOW [Tube-launched, Optically-guided Weapon]. The Mark 19 [40mm automatic grenade launcher], the SAW [M-249 Squad] Automatic Weapon that we have in the inventory-- we do not have a sufficient supply of those rounds in the inventory to provide what is necessary. Your HELLFIRE missiles which the aircraft use, there is very few--well below what is required in the theater in order for the aviators to do their job. However, they have on hand ... most of them you will find their unit basic loads are filled, but when it comes down to the CSL [corps stockage level] for the Corps, the Corps falls very short of what it is expected to have in its inventory. I can't recall right off the top of my head now the number that was required, but we were way below on those items.
MAJ HONEC: Why are we over in some and under in so many more? What is causing the problem? Do you know?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, not specifically, but you know in any war people are expected to fire a lot of artillery, so the Army produces a lot of artillery. And some of it has been in the inventory for quite a while.
Now as you develop new weapons systems, then you have got to go back to the drawing board and develop new munitions. Now some of these munitions cost quite a bit, some of them a million bucks a copy, so therefore that is the driving factor, or a driving factor, as to how many the Army will keep in its inventory at any given time. You know, they may be in depot or they may be at another location and have to be shipped over here, so they are just not available, and you just have to fight the war with what you have.
MAJ HONEC: When you talk about high-cost items, munitions, is Copperhead one of those?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, yes, most definitely so, Copperhead. The Shillelagh round is one of them, and you know the size of that. There are only a few weapons systems here that fire the Shillelagh, as a matter of fact only one, and that is the [M-551] Sheridan that the 82d has on hand. So as a result of that, we don't have too much of that in here, because they are trying to phase--it is going to phase out with the Sheridan. If the Sheridan ... .
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Did you include in your planning what was on the pre-positioned ships, the POMCUS [Positioning of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets]? Go back to, again back--we seem to be going back a lot to the beginning. We will progress on after that.
MAJ ASBURY: Well, we have, at my level, I have very little visibility of what is on the pre-positioned ships. Basically, what I am concerned with is, I develop a need for this or identify a need and forward it up to the MMC, and they go from there to acquire the item, wherever it might be. And what they do is, they looked at what was required over the theater, and of course a listing was provided to them as to what was on the pre-po ships. And as they came into ARCENT, Central Army, what happened is, those items either ran into the Theater level stockage, or it came to the Corps, or VII Corps.
So at our level, we had very little to do with what was pre-positioned on the ships. We mostly identified what the needs were, and the Corps MMC, the Corps Materiel Management Center, identified where it was coming from or where we could get this item from. If that was a pre-po ship, then the pre-po ship would be brought in, off-loaded down at the port, and it either went to the theater level or it went into either one of the Corps.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. An adequate supply of Class IV? All the time?
MAJ ASBURY: No. Initially when we got here, especially, there was very little barrier material on the ground. Basically, our units got that done through local purchasing. They went out and local purchased the type of material that was required to get it done. For example, the barbed wire, I call it, or concertina wire that we had around our compound, we had to go out and locally procure it.
Now as the need was identified, here again the Corps Materiel Management Center went through the military system, identified the quantities required, and these items were shipped in in the latter part of December, the first part, the middle part of January. So it took quite a while for these items to come in, and most of it until them was obtained through local purchasing.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Now from moving ... moving for ... planning for the operations at Log Base CHARLIE, could you talk about what, first, Log Base CHARLIE was supposed to do and how you planned for that; and now, what Log Base CHARLIE has done, has evolved logistically, and how it has changed your plans?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, initially Log Base CHARLIE was established to support the Corps in their tactical assembly areas. They were going to come in and prepare to launch the attack from their tactical assembly areas, and the 507th's job was to come in here and to build a log base to sustain the Corps while they were in the tactical assembly areas, and to assist them crossing the LD and moving towards its first objective.
In doing that, here again we concentrated on Class III (bulk), Class V, and Class I. We looked at what it would require to sustain the Corps while they were in the assembly area. Initially, we were looking at coming into the assembly area and remaining in the assembly area for about two or three days--five days at the most--and we ended up actually staying in the tactical assembly area for about three, three weeks and a half, almost a month remaining in the tactical assembly area. So therefore that provided a great challenge.
What we were shooting at is having at least 3 million meals on the ground before crossing the LD. We were looking at having at least 5.4 million [gallons] of fuel on the ground. And we were looking at having at least 45,000 short tons of ammunition on the ground before crossing the LD.
Getting the ammunition here, there again we instituted somewhat of the same system that we did to get the ammunition from [Corps Storage Areas] HEISER and SKIBBIE into [Corps Storage Area] HARDEN, to from HARDEN to here to CSA REGISTER. We had two truck companies, and basically ran those two truck companies, pushed ammunition from HARDEN to CSA REGISTER. And what we did was, eventually we migrated one truck company here and one based at HARDEN, and they just rotated, and that gave them an area to sleep, eat, and do maintenance on their equipment. So that was a real challenge also.
In conjunction to cleaning out HARDEN, we set a goal that required us to move about--I will say about 2,000; let's say about 2,500 short tons a day. We had basically about 14 days we established for ourselves to move 18.6 thousand short tons from HARDEN to CSA REGISTER. We accomplished that, I will say we actually made the last move about 1 February, which was, here again, what I call unbelievable.
And we accomplished this by what the Group Commander referred to as hot-seating the vehicles. In other words, we kept switching out drivers. [COUGH] Excuse me. These guys would come back, and we would have a driver standing by ready to hop in the vehicle and take it off again while one sat down.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, continuing with the hot-seating of a driver. Obviously constant operating the vehicle this way had both good maintenance characteristics and some shortcomings, too. Could you expand upon this methodology, the planning to do this, and how well it went with the shortened maintenance intervals that you need during these harsh desert conditions? Go ahead.
MAJ ASBURY: Well, once we started hot-seating the vehicles, maintenance, the time for maintenance of the vehicles decreased tremendously. Basically, what it amounted to: checking the oil, ensuring water was in the radiator, tightening up bolts here and there to stop leaks, and if it ran, then it continued to run. That is the type of maintenance that we went to.
However, it must have been good quality checks, even though they were limited, because we never fell below 75 percent availability on the vehicles. Even right now it is amazing. The [M]-915s, which we use to haul supplies, are averaging about 80 percent, and that is unbelievable.
And that has been attributed to, I guess, a great deal of maintenance being pulled and a good maintenance program that involves the entire chain of command. So it has been an outstanding maintenance program and very limited down time. I mean, when something did go down, it was repaired, whether it was DS [Direct Support] or GS [General Support], and put back into service. So even though we decreased the amount of time that the drivers had to pull preventive maintenance on their equipment, the little time they did get was quality time, and they did a very good job on maintaining their assets.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, very good. Do you have any questions, SSG Kirkland, at this point?
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, when you discovered the oil in one of your wells, did you immediately shut down?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, we immediately ... anytime something of that nature happens, especially in the water production business, we bring everything to a stop, to a halt. We bring in the PM team, the preventive medicine team, and the preventive medicine team evaluates and they either give us a go or a no go. If they give us a no go, then they tell us what we have to do to make it go, and we take those necessary steps to make it go. Then they come back in and reevaluate again before we distribute any of that water. Once they give us the thumbs up, then that is when we are going to distribute the water.
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, did you notify the Saudi Government that you had discovered oil in that area?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, it wasn't that big of a vein that we hit. You know, you could find little traces of it, yes, just little traces of it. So it wasn't that massive amount or massive quantity that you struck oil.
SSG KIRKLAND: Before you dig a well, do you have to notify the Saudi Government that you plan on digging a well in that area, or do they give you full rein to ... ?
MAJ ASBURY: We normally don't go into digging wells. What we do is go and look for wells that is already constructed, and then obtain or acquire the permission of the owner and the Saudi Government to use that well. And then, of course, then they enter into a contract, and once the contract is approved, we get the approval to go in and start using the well.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Did the PM team come in every day because of the water?
MAJ ASBURY: No. They don't do it. They do it on a periodic basis, once we give the go ahead to do it. Every time we go up on a site, we have a maximum of 72 hours before we produce any water. That is what we like to give ourselves, because that includes the testing of the water itself--the raw product off the well is what we call it--and also the opportunity for them to set up their bags and stuff. And we do a lot of pre-work. For example, if the bags are not chlorinated, every time we pick up and move those bags, we have to re-chlorinate the bags. So we pre-chlorinate the bags, and of course that is another ... they also test the bags that we put the water into. So that 72 hours encompasses a lot of work, of prep for production of the water, and then after that to include distribution of the water, to make sure it is potable.
SSG KIRKLAND: And do you just supply to the XVIII Airborne Corps?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, we supply to all elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps. We develop a customer listing and we set up a cycle, and on a cyclic basis we provide water to the XVIII Airborne Corps.
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, at this time how is the bottled water distributed?
MAJ ASBURY: Bottled water is distributed from the Class I point. We operate ... normally bottled water fits in two categories. It either fits into Class I or it fits into Class III. Here we refer to it as Class I and we include it as part of the Class I operations. It comes in. A unit requisitions water just like they requisition rations, and we issue it by cases. You know, a lot of it in the past was stored outside, so it has gotten wet and the cases have just disintegrated. And in most cases we have to handle most of this water by bottle, you know, by hand, the bottled water. So we issue it, though, by cases.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Can I interrupt, so we can go to the next side, please?
[END OF SIDE ONE]
MAJ HONEC: That begs [for] a question. Do you see us needing a capability to separate oil from water? Does our equipment not do that now?
MAJ ASBURY: Not really, because it is very rare that this happens. This is the first time that this has happened since we have pumped water, so I would say, you know, it could have come from many different sources, not necessarily from below the ground. You know, it could have gotten into the water as the water runs through the different elements, i.e., leaked into it from a crack or something. So this is not a normal occurrence.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, go ahead, SSG Kirkland. Anything else?
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, are there any units that have priority for bottled water?
MAJ ASBURY: Normally, if we have to prioritize water, we would prioritize it in the manner in which the Airborne Corps has prioritized support for the elements of the Corps. If it is the 24th [Infantry Division], then we will concentrate on the 24th. And, however, try if not meet the requirements of the other units, give them what we possibly can.
Right now we have about a total of 50 SMTMTs uploaded, okay, in order to distribute water. However, we don't have sufficient prime movers to accomplish that, because we only have right now about 43 to 45 prime movers to pull the trailers, so however we have to prioritize and on a cyclic basis determine who gets water, and we try to meet the requirements of everybody. And even though they may not get what they request, we try to give them some or a portion of what they request.
Right now our big challenge is, we have got to develop two water sites forward, but we also got to continue support back here. And at Rafha there is an EPW [Enemy Prisoner of War] cage. That is one of the elements that we support, so therefore we have to leave behind sufficient truck assets to distribute water to the various points. And in addition to the EPW cage, the Corps is leaving between 20,000 to 25,000 soldiers in the rear back here, so we have got ... I beg your pardon?
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, at Log Base CHARLIE?
MAJ ASBURY: Right. So therefore we have got to continue to support these soldiers as well, and to do that we are pulling out of our 50 SMTMEs ... we are leaving five back here. In addition to that, we are going to pick up two civilian-type tankers, you know, 3,000 gallons each, that we are going to use to supplement that. But what we are going to do is, as these assets become available, we are going to pull out the military assets and send them forward to support the mission forward, as the commercial jobs take over their jobs back here, to provide the water.
So it is tasks like that, and also we have got ... we are running a ration point forward at Log Base ROMEO, but we can't close down the one back here, either. So we have got to continue to run this one back here as well as there. We have the same thing at maintenance, the same thing in Class IX. So therefore a large part of our support base here at CHARLIE will remain in CHARLIE, as well as support forward, also with small elements. For example, my section here. We will go heavy in the rear to ensure support for the contingent back here, and we will send a small cell forward when it is time for us to move forward, to monitor and manage and orchestrate the distribution of materiel and water forward.
SSG KIRKLAND: So how much time will the people be spending back here, the 25,000 soldiers, after a majority of the people move on?
MAJ ASBURY: They will be here until the end of hostilities. They will remain here. There was some talk at one time of picking them up and moving them down to Log Base ECHO, but here again, every move demands transportation, and then there is a strict requirement that ...
MAJ HONEC: Okay, go ahead.
MAJ ASBURY: ... so with that, you know, the transportation is not there. So everybody has come to the realization that we just can't pick up Log Base CHARLIE and move it. So it is going to have to remain here and we are going to have to continue support to the elements remaining here as well as sustaining the combat elements forward, so it is a big job. A big job, requires a lot of flexibility, because everything, when you talk about combat, is event-dependent.
We had plans of pushing the supplies up [Main Supply Route] TEXAS. TEXAS became clogged the first day of the war. We couldn't get anything up TEXAS, so therefore we had to come back around and go up [MSR] GEORGIA. We sent 45 tankers up GEORGIA to resupply the 24th Infantry Division yesterday. So that is the type of flexibility that is required in support of building and sustaining Log Base CHARLIE.
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, that is all the questions I had. Thanks.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Fairly quickly, MSR GEORGIA, is that open to [MSR] VIRGINIA at this point?
MAJ ASBURY: Yes, it is open to VIRGINIA at this point. We have not moved very much up GEORGIA because right now GEORGIA is a 24th Infantry MSR, and the Corps should take it over 72 hours into the battle. It will become a Corps asset, and at that point in time we will start using GEORGIA as the weather permits, because it is a secondary road and with the traffic moving up and down it, I am quite sure they are going to do a lot of damage to it.
MAJ HONEC: Well, being a secondary, a Saudi secondary road, the condition of the road is that it is basically dirt and rocks with no hard top?
MAJ ASBURY: Dirt and rock with no hard top. The Engineers prepared it from [MSR] DODGE5 to the border, and once hostilities started they were supposed to prepare it all the way up to Log Base ROMEO. That is optimistic.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Very good. One other question: is the large water factory in Rafha? Do you have ... you do have plans to utilize that water source also for supplying water?
MAJ ASBURY: Since I guess about a week or two after we got here, that water source was discovered. We have been using it to supplement production at the 419th [Quartermaster Battalion's site in Log Base CHARLIE], and will continue to use it to supplement ... sustain ... that during hostilities. A very valuable source. However, long lines tend to stretch out our turn-around time, so even though we will still use it, we will use it sparingly to supplement water production and distribution here at Log Base CHARLIE.
MAJ HONEC: I see. So it is about, I figure about 70 kilometers from here, so it will be 140 kilometers round trip to bring it just back to Log Base CHARLIE?
MAJ ASBURY: Just to bring it back here, and then you are looking at about another 100 kilometers from here to Log Base ROMEO and about 40, 50, 60 kilometers further--from here to OSCAR is about 100 kilometers, and then another 50 kilometers from OSCAR to ROMEO, so a pretty long way.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Do you have anything, SSG Kirkland? No? I don't believe I have anything more.
Do you have any other thoughts on communications? We haven't addressed that. Have you had adequate supplies of radios, of that nature, real quick? I know you have to go.
MAJ ASBURY: We have had very limited communication assets within the group. Recently we underwent a new TO&E change. That gave us the authorization for additional communication equipment. We have gotten some of that, even though we are still short, because we haven't gotten all the installation kits and stuff that is required to install all of this stuff.
So therefore communication is still a critical item for us because we cannot supply or equip all those assets that are required. In some of our elements they are only authorized one or two radios, and you can't do a decent job on the battlefield with only one or two radios. Communication has always been a problem and will continue to be a problem. Hopefully, as time goes on we will recognize that and start working and dealing with that.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Global positioning equipment to tell your position on the ground, do you anticipate adequate supplies coming or not?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, I think initially the whole group was given a total of about 10 GPSs [Global Positioning Systems]. I heard last night that we were acquiring about 30 more. Even with 30 more, that is not sufficient for the type mission that we do. We have aviators that fly; they need them. We have transporters that drive, that deliver cargo, both wet and dry; they need them. Thirty will not go that far.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. I assume that ... one other question about the availability of transponders for the helicopters and what not, that sort of thing? Do you have enough computers to do your work with? Perhaps you could shed some light on those sorts of needs you have over here?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, we have approximately five AVIM [aviation intermediate maintenance] companies in the battalion. What we have done here ... what we have done for ease of management and ease of repair, we have consolidated and ended up with teams. So support teams will go out with the elements forward, and then you have a home base here where we have supplemented the home base with elements from various units. So that has really met the requirement or the need of aviation repair here at Log Base CHARLIE, so equipment is not a problem.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. All right. Anything else you can add to this record of logistics and planning for this particular operation?
MAJ ASBURY: Well, I would say that Log Base CHARLIE ... no one thought that Log Base CHARLIE could be built in the time frame in which it was built. I found it to be quite interesting. I found it to be a lot of hard work to not only develop but sustain it afterwards, because we came in and we thought we were only going to be here five days at the most, and we ended up staying almost a month, so sustainment within itself and then looking forward to deploying elements and materiel forward.
The whole thing that has come out of this is that transportation is a critical item, and it is something that the Army needs to look at in the future.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Thank you, MAJ Asbury. This concludes this DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM interview.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
1. On the Arabian Gulf immediately southeast of Dhahran in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
2. Breakfast-lunch-dinner cycle.
3. King Fahd, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
4. At the time this interview was conducted, Log Base CHARLIE had experienced several rainstorms, creating heavy mud conditions. Many soldiers used their overshoes to deal with the thick mud.
5. The Trans-Arabian Pipeline Road.