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 108
COL (P) John G. Zierdt, Jr.
Commander, 1st Support Command
Interview Conducted 10 June 1991 at Building MT-4957, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
Interviewer: MAJ Robert B. Honec, III (116th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 108
MAJ HONEC: This is a continuation of the DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM interviews. My name is MAJ Robert B. Honec, the 116th Military History Detachment. We are here today at the 1st COSCOM [1st Support Command (Corps)] Headquarters, Building MT-4957, talking to COL Zierdt.
Sir, for the record--we are at Fort Bragg--for the record, sir, could you give your full name, social security number, your position and how long you have been in that position?
COL ZIERDT: Okay. COL John G. Zierdt, Jr.; I'm the commander of the 1st Corps Support Command; serial number is ***-**-****. I've been in this job since November 1989.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, sir. From your colonel's perspective could you describe the deployment issues that you were faced? First of all, when was the COSCOM notified that they would be deployed to Saudi Arabia--the first official notification?
COL ZIERDT: Well, the first official notification came on the night of 6 August.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: You know, when the whole EDRE [Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise] system started the deployment scheme involved sending the 82d [Airborne Division]. The COSCOM always follows the first brigade at the 82d. We get a brigade in, then the COSCOM assault support package then is the first thing that we put on the ground afterwards.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, I see.
COL ZIERDT: So, you know, we started as soon as everyone else in the entire Corps did. We had been working on the deployment over the weekend because LTG [John J.] Yeosock [Commanding General, Third Army and US Army Central Command (ARCENT)] and Mr. [Dick] Cheney [Secretary of Defense] and others were on their way to Saudi to talk about what support was needed to support the forces.
And so, LTG [Gary] Luck [Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps] had me spend all day Saturday and Sunday, the 4th and the 5th, putting together a list of water requirements, POL [petroleum, oil and lubricants] requirements, food requirements, and the things, transportation requirements, that we needed to sustain the force initially, until we got set up over there. All this was provided to LTG Yeosock and ARCENT Headquarters. He went over and obtained the [host nation] support that we needed.
So, on the 6th, then, we officially got the order that it was approved and we were to begin the deployment. So we went into our normal EDRE procedures, moving the division ready brigade, and it's ammunition and everything, over to Green Ramp1 to start the deployment.
MAJ HONEC: How did that go, sir?
COL ZIERDT: Well, it went well, except the Air Force was slow generating airplanes. We went into ... I believe N-Hour [Notification hour] was around 2200 or 2400 on Monday night, and normally within 18 hours we expect to have wheels up. We really didn't get the aircraft for two or three or four days. So, the aircraft didn't generate as fast as we normally expect. But other than that, we were always way ahead of wherever we needed to be, from a Fort Bragg perspective, in moving things over there.
But we then went through our normal deployment procedures to start moving people out. We had moved our assault command post out, which is a group at my headquarters. We moved our Assault Command Post out, which is a group from my headquarters. We moved our assault support package out, which involves the [44th] Medical Brigade and the 507th and the 46th Support Groups. And its a package we always want to get into an air head right away to provide support.
However, we had a problem in that GEN [H. Norman] Schwarzkopf [Commander in Chief, US Central Command] was upset that ten aircraft got ripped off from what he considered the combat flow in[to] the logistics flow. And he got upset and called down here, and allowed as to how he didn't want a lot of logisticians and people to get in there early on, that he wanted to get ... to maximize combat forces on the ground.
This bothered me and it bothered LTG Luck, because we know that we require support and support has to be in there early to sustain whatever forces we have in there. But anyway it ... from that point on we really slowed down. We had even ... the first week or so, we even had a ship that was going to go down and pick up the 24th Infantry Division, and it was diverted up here because we wanted to send our 28th Combat Support Hospital, we wanted to send an ammunition company and a truck company, and some other units early on to get them on their way over there in case they were needed.
But right after that happened, then the ship flow slowed down and our air flow slowed down a little bit. But we did get that initial package on the ground and they were able to ... once they got into Saudi Arabia, to start running the airfield and doing all the ADACG (that's the Airfield Departure/Arrival Control Group) procedures. So, they were able to start helping move people and clear the airfield and keep things going.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
COL ZIERDT: My Deputy Commander, [COL] Steve Garrett, was in charge and Col. "Sparky" Wilson, the commander of the 43d Support--[correction],the 46th Support Group was also on the ground. They were laying all the ground work for our initial support.
MAJ HONEC: So, as the aircraft was C-141s [Starlifters]?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah, they were C-141--oh, they were a mixture. Sometimes you would get a C-5 [Galaxy], but mostly C-141s.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, sir. They came into [Ad] Dammam--I mean to Dhahran International Airport?
COL ZIERDT: Right, they were all being flown into Dhahran.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Please continue.
COL ZIERDT: Then we, you know, we in the COSCOM started working it. It began by the 10th or the 15th of August, you know, it became obvious that this exercise was getting, that this operation was getting, bigger and bigger and wasn't just the 82d or just the 24th. It was going to involve the 101st Airborne Division and others' troops. So, we had to go to work on an organization that was going to support the entire Corps. The COSCOM that supports Fort Bragg, that supports the Fort Bragg units around here day in and day out is approximately 6,000 soldiers. As we sat down to do an analysis of what we would need to support an entire corps, you know, we were able to determine we were able to determine we were going to require about 35,000 soldiers. So the COSCOM would get that large.
Fortunately, myself and my staff had been working for GEN [Edwin H.] Burba [Commanding General, US Army Forces Command] on a project to identify the contingency COSCOM. So we had been designing this 35,000-soldier force and working on how we would put the maintenance companies and the supply companies and where we would put the medical units. And we had been working on that structure; had briefed it to GEN Burba first in May and then again in July. In May he had asked us to brief an all-active force to support two divisions, the 82d and the 101st. And then in July he asked us to expand that to include another light division and then a heavy brigade. So we had been through the force structure and how to do it; we had been through the thought process on how to do that. So that was probably the most fortunate thing, from our point of view, in this whole exercise is, we had been working on this.
MAJ HONEC: Well, why the project? What was it supposed to be?
COL ZIERDT: As the army refocuses away from Europe onto the contingency corps, you know, there was a lot of interest in having an all-active contingency COSCOM that could go support anyplace in the world.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But we went through and figured out what units we needed. If you will recall back, in the late July  we went through a CPX [Command Post Exercise] called INTERNAL LOOK.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: And INTERNAL LOOK happened to be the exact scenario, except the big difference was, in INTERNAL LOOK all the support forces were on the ground in Dammam and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, first; then the combat units flowed in. But we had gone through a war game and decided how we wanted to fight a defensive battle over there, but we had never been through a TPFDDL [Time-phased Force Deployment List] conference. We had never really sat down and decided what units we wanted, where we wanted them in the flow, when we wanted them. So my people, then, once this all started had to take this contingency COSCOM we had designed, go up to Forces Command and ARCENT Headquarters and sit down with them and load these units in the TPFDDL.
So we were able to have a great influence early on in deciding, you know, who went where and in what order in the TPFDDL, and organize the flow that we would have in the theatre. And once we did that, I spent probably the first two or three weeks in August really concentrating on that. GEN [Carl] Vuono [Chief of Staff of the Army] came down here and visited and was very concerned about how we were going to support this.
I had already shown LTG Luck and MG [Will] Roosma [Deputy Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps] how we were designing this COSCOM. So they had me fly up to Washington in August and brief LTG [Jimmy D.] Ross. I ended up briefing LTG Ross, who was the DA DCS Log [Department of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics] and GEN Tuttle who is the commander of AMC [Army Materiel Command], and then about 15 to 20 other logistics general officers. I briefed them on our overall plan. And then they had me go and see GEN [Gordon R.] Sullivan, the Vice Chief of Staff, and brief him on how we were going to support it. So they all felt a lot more comfortable when they saw then that we knew what we were doing and knew how we were going to expand and what we were going to do.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
COL ZIERDT: And then I came back here. And then I personally deployed around the 23d of August--because up until that time the most important thing was to make sure we were getting the proper forces allocated to us, and that was working. And by about the 23d of August, all that seemed to be fairly well in order and so I needed to get over to Saudi Arabia to start establishing logistic systems and other things.
MAJ HONEC: Meanwhile, the COSCOM was loading out, was beginning to ship their vehicles down to port?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yes. Every day ... by about the 23d of August we had well over half of the COSCOM had moved onto ships and had started to load ships and that stuff was on its way and en route.
MAJ HONEC: Did you use rail?
COL ZIERDT: No, we used just totally convoys.
MAJ HONEC: Just convoys.
COL ZIERDT: But no rail at all. Wilmington is not very far away, it's a couple of hours, so by the time you ...
MAJ HONEC: Loaded up?
COL ZIERDT: ... load up the rail and download, you don't save any time at all. It is a short, short run.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. The 23d you left?
COL ZIERDT: But anyway, the 23d I personally left, and then went over to Saudi Arabia and started working over there. But our deployment out of Fort Bragg then continued, you know, through September and into October.
There is one other thing in that, in the August time frame also ... . Since we were tapping mostly other units in the corps, other non-divisional CSS [combat service support] units, like the Eagle Support Brigade that COL [Roy] Beauchamp commands at Fort Campbell, [Kentucky]. When we called them, got them on the phone, COL Beauchamp [and] his battalion commanders flew in here. We talked to the 548th S&S [Supply and Service] Battalion over at Fort Drum, [New York], and then LTC Stan Walker flew down here. We would sit down with these commanders and talk about what we wanted to do, show them where we saw them in the flow, and, you know, talk about what we expected to do. We were able to give them our standard operating procedures. We went to the printing plant and got several thousand SOPs printed up, field SOPs, so that we could give them to units as they came in, to show them what our standards were and how we were going to operate.
But we did an awful lot of that type of stuff in the States, which was a good way to do it, because you had good phone systems and you were able to get a hold of people, and talk to them, and explain to them what was needed. Explain to them, give them an idea of how they were going to fit into the picture when they got overseas and tell them who they were going to support and when they were going to do it.
MAJ HONEC: Good point, good point. Communications we will talk about later on, over in Saudi Arabia. Okay. The effect on the post?
COL ZIERDT: Well, the effect on the post was we were ... well, as I said, one of the first units I had to get in Saudi Arabia was the 8th Ordnance Company, our ammunition company who runs the post ASP [ammunition supply point]. They spent, the ammunition company, spent the first two or three weeks just working their tails off issuing all the ammunition we had and giving the ammunition to people that were deploying, because we at the time really thought we were going to get in Saudi Arabia and hit the ground fighting. We tend to forget now how tense a situation it was. I remember today sitting in the N-Plus 2 Room in the 82d, thinking that brigade was going to get wiped out when they hit the ground because it was an overwhelming force over there. And to have one airborne brigade on the ground, well, when we couldn't have done too much if they had decided to attack, with all of the divisions they had. But so we were really working on issuing ammunition, getting everything issued that we could. But this ammo company at the same time had to start getting their equipment ready to go to port. So, we started moving their equipment to port and left the soldiers back here using commercial equipment to whatever extent we could. But eventually we had to fly the ammo company, most of them, over there early on because they were needed. They had commercial equipment and some fork lifts in Saudi Arabia, so we had to get them over there to start handling the ammo coming off the pre-positioned ships.
MAJ HONEC: Oh. The pre-positioned ships had already arrived in Dammam?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, they had already arrived. They were one of the first ones that arrived and were unloaded.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But anyway, it caused us a lot of problems just trying to get out of Fort Bragg. And then we had to leave back an accountable officer. The lieutenant who was assigned for all of the ammunition out there, and then eventually some civilians came in and we had to hand over. Several years ago, we had made plans to always keep at least five or six civilians in the ASP; the idea being they would be the nucleus then to build from. Here on one of the last manpower cuts they all got cut out, so there were none of them there. But I had to leave my lieutenant back to protect his records and his accountability; so we did that.
We ran other things on post, like the consolidated receipt point that we ran mostly by ourselves. Again, the civilians came in there and it just took them a while to learn what the procedures were and to learn how to do that. But I would say certainly having run an ASP here it helped that ammo company get to Saudi Arabia and do a great job, because they knew what they were doing.
And the people who run our Consolidated Receipt Point here went to Saudi, and they then did it for the whole Corps. All kinds of parts coming in for millions of different units, they were able to sort out because they knew what they were doing, they were very well trained.
Also, as we withdrew trucks from the post and had to send our trucks to port, all of a sudden there were no other trucks to haul things around because we only had one 5-ton truck company and one [M]-915 truck company, and that's it. So, as we loaded those on ships ... you know, we had problems just moving things around post.
MAJ HONEC: How did they solve it? Were there a lot of ... ?
COL ZIERDT: They contracted and had contractors come in. You know, this is the sort of thing you just have to be flexible. In the XVIII Airborne Corps, you don't survive around here unless you learn how to be flexible.
MAJ HONEC: True, but contracting is a slow involved process, normally. Did it get speeded up for this particular ... ?
COL ZIERDT: I don't know, I'm not sure. You would have to ask the post contracting people. I am sure that they were able to speed it up around here, but I don't know any of the details.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But it was not that hard to withdraw from post. Except we were really trying to emphasize to every one of our companies in the COSCOM, we didn't know when they were coming back or if they would just stay over there forever. I mean, this is sort of how you started deploying to Korea or Vietnam, and we're still ... we stayed in Vietnam ten years and we are still in Korea today. So, you know, we were emphasizing to the companies that they were to take everything they own--lock, stock and barrel--and empty the motor pools.
After they loaded out the ships and filled up MILVANs [military container vans] we went through and inspected the empty work areas in the motor pools and all that to make sure that everyone had taken everything they owned. As long as we spent over there, it was a good thing that we had done that, because you certainly needed all of your TO&E [Table of Organization and Equipment] equipment and everything.
I guess the only other thing to mention on the deployment was we also had to go to work hard on the family support group issues ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: ... in getting ready to take care of our families, making sure we left decent rear detachment commanders back here that would help the wives and take care of things. So we had a lot of family support group meetings to bring in the families and tell them what was going on. We started caring for their needs.
MAJ HONEC: The role of the single parent. Did ... COSCOM has got a large female soldier population by the rest of the ... you know, because it is combat service support. Did that ... did you experience any noticeable problems in the single parent issue as compared ... in COSCOM?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, we had some problems. But I don't think it was severe. We had a bunch of people that had a family support plan in this is how they are going to take care of their child if they deployed, and all of a sudden it wasn't working.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: And some of these had even been tested, and they worked good for a weekend or for two or three weeks. But, you know, for eight months, that would try any family support plan. But we were fairly lenient in the COSCOM. If a soldier came in and said, "My family support plan won't work, and I can't do anything with my child." We would say, "Fine, will you support a check or final discharge." We were very lenient in letting them out of the Army. But what we were going to is "either you going now like a soldier ought to or else you are getting out of the Army, but we are not just going to leave you here," ... you know, in the rear detachment because you happen to be a soldier, a parent. We just didn't. I think people generally understood that.
And we probably cleansed our system and got rid of a lot of people that way, but I think we also had a hell of a lot of them that made great sacrifices and left their two or three children with their parents or somebody for seven or eight months and made some great sacrifices.
MAJ HONEC: That's a good point.
COL ZIERDT: So, I don't think we have a big problem in the Army. We certainly didn't have a big problem here.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Both husband and wife being in the military? Here in the COSCOM, did you experience any figures on that?
COL ZIERDT: No that wasn't too much different from the single parent.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: I mean, it was the same type of thing. I guess the only thing I would bring up is because COSCOM has most of the women, it seems like whenever there is a problem, a married couple, the woman is the one that ends up going home, the man seldom does. So, I have a lot of female officers and female soldiers that are married to people in the 82d or in the other Corps brigades. And generally when a family problem came up if somebody was going to solve it, it ended up being the woman in the family, for one reason or another. And so that probably impacted the COSCOM a little bit more than it did other units because of something like that. But again, it was not a big issue or a big problem from my perspective. Yes, we had a few here and there and we had things come up, but it is just not anything that I think is worth dwelling on because it wasn't a big problem.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. The rear detachment commanders: every unit here had a rear detachment to help them out?
COL ZIERDT: Generally if the battalions and the groups have an officer; at the company level we didn't require them to keep an officer, they probably have an NCO [noncommissioned officer] at the company level to do that; and the battalions generally had a captain and maybe a lieutenant here and there; and we had a major for the COSCOM headquarters.
But they, you know, they then continued to run things and, you know, push people forward. Replacements continued to flow in there, so they would have to help them out and get them forward. As we got over there and found that we needed things, we would call back to those rear detachment people and have them take care of things for us.
MAJ HONEC: Was the communications back and that ... was that adequate from the beginning? Did you experience any trouble in getting word back to the States?
COL ZIERDT: No.
MAJ HONEC: It was fairly good contact?
COL ZIERDT: It was fairly good getting back here. It was certainly hard to sit in this office and call over there. But once I got over there, it was not that difficult to call back here when we needed something. We had fairly good phone lines into Fort Bragg if we needed to take care of that type of that type of thing.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You went over on the 23d. How did you fly? Commercial?
COL ZIERDT: I flew on a commercial CRAF [Civilian Reserve Air Fleet] aircraft.
MAJ HONEC: Coming through ... what was the route that you took?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, I flew through, I went through ... I think Maine and, well, we landed in Rome.
MAJ HONEC: Rome and then to Dhahran?
COL ZIERDT: Then to Dhahran.
MAJ HONEC: And King Fahd International Airport?2
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. And you set up in ... where? The COSCOM headquarters was at?
COL ZIERDT: Well, by the time I got there we set up in a camp we called BLACKJACK, which was a BBC Compound.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. We didn't document that.
COL ZIERDT: Yes, they had already ... COL Garrett, who was the forward commander, he was my deputy commander, he was already forward and they had already leased a compound. So by the time I got there, we had moved in there and I moved right in there.
MAJ HONEC: This was ... the lease was through the Saudi ... the contracting, the normal, ARCENT Contracting Office?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, through the ... actually it was mostly our contracting people.
MAJ HONEC: Was it?
COL ZIERDT: We went over there. ARCENT didn't have many, but the XVIII Airborne Corps Acquisition Section works for COSCOM Headquarters, and they were in our Assault CP. They are of course the first people we send any place. We found when we deployed to St. Croix and when we deployed to Panama ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: ... the first people we need on the ground are the contracting officers. We certainly needed them in Saudi Arabia. So, they were mostly our people. Although, I think the compound leasing was being done through an army agency over there. A corps of engineers agency [Middle East Procurement Office] since it was leases, things of that nature, I think they were doing it. I think they were doing with our acquisition and normal contracting people.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. This was an immature theatre. So how was it in the very beginning? When you got in the 23d, it still was ... still evolving.
COL ZIERDT: I think we probably ought to, you know, just to keep track of that, we ought to finish the deployment part.
MAJ HONEC: Excellent, okay.
COL ZIERDT: Then on the next part, when we talk defensive, we will talk about setting up logistic systems.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: I guess the only other thing I can think about on the deployment part was we then, after we started deploying these units we knew about--the Corps units, all the non-division units at Fort Stewart, [Georgia], or Fort Benning, [Georgia], or Fort Campbell, Fort Drum. Those units came over to us, and we had already had communications with them. But as we got bigger and bigger, we eventually started bringing in Reserve Component units.
Now again, some of them, there was a support group out of North Carolina--near Raleigh, North Carolina--the 171st Support Group that came over. COL Ross Leidy was the commander. This is a unit that we have worked with for the last two summers. We EDRE'd them in conjunction with [Field Training Exercise] MARKET SQUARE two summers ago. Then last summer they happened to be out working on INTERNAL LOOK with us. So, this was a unit we were very familiar with. And then some of the battalions in the other companies that were coming, we talked to them.
But after a while, as the COSCOM continued to grow and grow and different units came over, units started to come that we weren't very familiar with.
So that ended up being a problem in that we were sitting in Saudi Arabia and didn't have any idea that the umpty-ump maintenance company or the umpty-ump supply company was arriving until you would open the aircraft, and all of a sudden here they are. Some days you would get three or four days advance notice saying, okay, here is about when they are coming. So you would have a window when they were coming in, but you didn't really know until the aircraft opened up, and here they are. In a lot of these units we really didn't have a good enough feel of what their capability was: Is this a well-trained unit? Have they been working together for a number of years, or are they brand new?
You know, we had some units come over that ... reserve units that had been working together for years and did a great job. We had others that the unit didn't have nearly a number of people, but they went out in their state. In Arizona, a POL supply company that I can think of--they went out and asked for volunteers and had about 80 or 90 soldiers come in, MPs and medics and different people volunteered to work in a POL supply company. And they sent them through two or weeks training and sent them over. And they did a fabulous job too. But what I needed to know when they got on the ground was that they were untrained and really hadn't done this before, so I would know whether then I would have to put together a training to make sure they could operate with their equipment and knew what they were doing.
MAJ HONEC: Very true. [LAUGHTER]
COL ZIERDT: But anyway, we ... and then the COSCOM eventually through all of the deployments, we eventually expanded up to 22,000, not the 35,000 that I mentioned earlier. And the difference was this 35,000-[man] COSCOM was a COSCOM that was supporting itself; that didn't have a SUPCOM [Support Command] behind it; that was just able to be totally independent and do some of its own port operations and other things. But when you get down to what we needed, 22,000 was about right for what we needed for Saudi Arabia as long as we had a SUPCOM and a unit behind us with some more transportation, POL, and other capability.
MAJ HONEC: Great. Well, that's a point to remember. Okay.
COL ZIERDT: I would say another thing in the deployment, when I first got over to Saudi Arabia and evaluated things, we could see that ... I could quickly see that because COSCOM had not been allowed to come over here, that we weren't providing good enough support. But MG [later LTG] [William "Gus"] Pagonis, who was the J-4 of Forces Command, had been sent over and he had been named as the Deputy Commander of ARCENT for Logistics. He was quickly contracting all of this POL support, water support, food, transportation support I mentioned that we had told LTG Yeosock we had to have on the ground.
Well, MG Pagonis' job was to pull all of that host nation type support together, and he was pulling that together. So, when I got on the ground, went out and assessed the logistic situation, I went back and reported to LTG Luck, well, that, yeah, the bad news was that COSCOM was not, you know, doing the support role that it is designed to do, that our divisions were going directly to the SUPCOM and getting their support.
The good news was the divisions were getting the support they needed. But the SUPCOM had built up a big base there and were bringing in a lot of people, and so they were supporting our divisions directly, rather than going through our COSCOM. So, that was a problem for us in the ensuing months as we, then, tried to wean the divisions away from SUPCOM and get them used to dealing with us again. We eventually worked our way through that and overcame it.
And there has also been some discussion in logistic circles of whether we ought to have the COSCOM or the SUPCOM and who ought to do what. But I would say even though we had our problems earlier on sorting out who was doing what because the SUPCOM people were just leaning forward and trying to do their job. You need a SUPCOM in a theatre like this, mainly, to look to the rear. I mean, they need to be talking to the DA staff every day, they need to be worrying about the port issues, getting all of the support in country.
I, as the COSCOM commander, need to be on the ground and need to be looking forward with support. I just need to turn around and say, "Give me this and give me that," and then move out and support the units. If I am having to spend a lot of my time also talking to the Pentagon and talking to people in the States and orchestrate that, I'm not going to do both jobs as well. So, I think it's fairly smart to have one group in the rear that's just going to clear the port for you and just going to worry whether we getting in country. And allow the COSCOM commander and the corps to then move things forward and set up operations.
MAJ HONEC: But hands off the port and giving it to another outside the XVIII Airborne Corps to worry about, you would incur some other problems being hands off, not being able to control or at least to have your fingers into port operations a little bit?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we always get them in there a little bit. I mean, we're in there deciding what the priorities are. I mean, I could handle the port part. It's more the constant phone calls from the States because everybody in the States wants to know what's going on.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
COL ZIERDT: And somebody also has to run around and set up the POL requirements and the food requirements and all of that, to make sure we have vendors that are, you know, contracting vendors and all that sort of type of thing.
So, there are probably are million other things I could talk about on the deployment issues, but it is one of these things that we started a deployment on the 6th of August and they are still doing some deploying of units over there today. There certainly are a lot of other lessons learned, but they are mostly at lower levels, down ... I'm sure company commanders and battalion commanders would go into more detail than I can on some of this.
But it was an extremely successful deployment when you consider that we had no TPFDDL, we had no plan. Although, this is the type of thing we have been planning on doing all our careers. We thought we were going to reinforce the big war in Europe. We all have done REFORGERs or we have TEAM SPIRITs or different exercises3 to practice the deployment.
Certainly the COSCOM was well-trained because had done AHUAS TARA exercises down in Honduras, and we had been on [Atlantic Command Exercise] OCEAN VENTUREs where we have filled ships and deployed down there and came back. So we have NCOs and young officers that were very well-trained and knew exactly what they were doing.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, good. Assessing the ... you went into the defensive phase.
COL ZIERDT: Let's take a break.
MAJ HONEC: All right, no problem.
MAJ HONEC: Here we go. Okay. Going on to the defensive phase, the DESERT SHIELD, if you will--Phase I of the operation. Give me some of your assessment of COSCOM operations during that period? For instance, distances. Now, as I understand it, they were still expanding out. They weren't all over in the specific areas of Saudi Arabia, so it was all concentrated on the port area for the short-term?
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: So, distances really were not too big a factor. But, as the divisions started to deploy out, the job got tougher?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we landed in Dhahran and started receiving supplies, and then we had to set up logistic systems, you know, the support the whole theatre.
MAJ HONEC: Oh! Okay.
COL ZIERDT: I guess our big job was just figuring out how to set things up. For example, the 32d MEDSOM, our Medical Supply and Optical Maintenance Battalion, got on the ground early on. They had a pre-positioned ship that was chocked full of medical supplies. And then our job was then to receive all of those, set up a medical warehouse, and then to get ready to issue them wherever they were needed in theatre. Likewise, we had other pre-positioned ships that were full of ammunition. Some that had forklifts, water purification units, water equipment.
So, we were fortunate in that there was a lot of pre-positioned equipment that had been stored in the Diego Garcia area and to support a contingency in Southwest Asia. So, the first thing we started doing was receiving those ships, unloading them. That's why I could send an ammo company that just put their equipment on the ship from here, could fly over there, and then borrow equipment that we had on the ground and use that for three or four weeks until theirs actually arrived. You know, so that all worked out very well.
MAJ HONEC: But what issues concerning space to put all this equipment that you had available? Like, for instance, the 32d MEDSOM had trouble finding adequate warehouses, or staying in one, at the first ... beginning.
COL ZIERDT: Well, we had to go around and find it. We found out quickly in Saudi Arabia that even every piece of the desert was owned by someone, and you couldn't just go set up in the desert and park some place. We were fortunate. We needed a lot of warehouse space, living space. We were very fortunate. For example, the Dhahran area had all kinds of living space compounds that were empty. And these had been constructed in the late 70s and early '80s as Saudi Arabia was going through immense construction projects.
They would bring in foreign workers from third countries and live there, work there, and do their jobs. But apparently in the last few years the amount of work in Saudi Arabia must have decreased quite a bit, because there were all kinds of empty compounds that were available, empty warehouses that were available in shop areas. So, we quickly had to go around and find these areas. And we would find and empty warehouse and then we would have to go through the contracting people and try to lease it. The MEDSOM people found a cold storage warehouse, which is what you need to store your medical supplies, and they leased one. But then it ended up being in a Shiite area, which is a very anti-Western area.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: And our people were in there and starting to unload and store in there. But the Shiites in the local area started complaining every time they saw a female working or every time they saw soldiers with their jackets off. And so, we just eventually had so many problems in this area that the local prince or general, Saudi general, in charge of that area asked us to please get out of that area because they wanted not to create some religious disturbances in their country. So, we had to then move to another location. We eventually moved the corps Medical Supply and Optical Maintenance people about three times in Dhahran, until we got them in an area they could work in. But we were doing this all over the city. We were trying to find places that we could set up little compounds and stock supplies.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. I wanted to point out that this was not isolated. The problem is finding the space. Did you have people go out and search for empty areas and then go and find out about that? Is that how ... ?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, we would drive through town, see an area. And then you had to learn to deal with the Saudis. I mean, they just don't appreciate somebody knocking on their gate and coming in and saying, "Hey, we're interested." I mean, they expect you to ...
MAJ HONEC: This is cultural ... ?
COL ZIERDT: They expect you to find somebody and get introduced and sit down and drink tea with them and go through some customs-type things.
MAJ HONEC: Ah!
COL ZIERDT: So ... but being Americans we had a little trouble with that, but eventually we sorted our way through that. We found some Saudi realtors that became middlemen and started going out and making the contacts for us and then started negotiating.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
COL ZIERDT: But we had the normal contractual problems involved when all of a sudden they found out the Americans were in town paying big bucks for compounds, and so they wanted to ask too much, you know, for the places that we needed. So, eventually we would find some great areas and not be able to contract for them, and we would find some others that weren't so good but the price was right. So, we had to go through all of that give and take of negotiation.
MAJ HONEC: The Saudi Government never intervened on your behalf for that? The King never ... [he] seemed to be all powerful. I know he controlled just about everything that goes on in Saudi Arabia. He couldn't have just arranged for it?
COL ZIERDT: He just sort of let this happen. Actually later on in about the November-December time frame the Saudis said, okay, we will start doing the contracting.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: And then it got much worse.
MAJ HONEC: [LAUGHTER]
COL ZIERDT: It got much worse because no one wanted, the owners did not want to deal with the Saudi Government because the Saudi Government has a reputation for not paying. They will rent a compound and then never pay for it.
MAJ HONEC: Hmm. Good point.
COL ZIERDT: So most of the realtors and the owners of the land were more than willing to deal with us but did not want to deal with the Saudis. But anyway, we found all of these compounds and we had the job of establishing the logistics systems over there. We had ... I had the supply companies and the maintenance companies and the cargo transfer companies. So it was a ... I just cannot explain the enormity of the challenge of all of a sudden trying to set up these systems, and in a country from scratch.
We were able to do it because all of the soldiers and the lieutenants and the officers understand the doctrine. In doctrine we know how it is supposed to happen. We all have experience in Europe and Korea and places that we have been. Especially Europe and Korea where we have seen how we set up trailer transfer points and how we accept supplies and move them around and set up delivery loops where truck drivers go out in certain loops each day. We have seen how we set up GS [general support] supply companies and direct support [DS] supply companies. So, we just sort of all modeled it based on what we are familiar with from Europe and Korea. And then were able to do that and started creating supplies. Sometimes we had problems in that the general support supply company wasn't here yet, but the direct support supply companies were; so, we had them doing both a GS and a DS mission, which was a little confusing to them because that's not what they are designed for. But as we slowly matured, then we were able to fine tune our system and just make it better and better.
We had things such as parts coming in. We eventually got the point that we were receiving 30 to 40 air pallets of supplies a day for the 24th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. And it was our job to unload that off aircraft, put it in a holding area, load it on trucks, and then deliver it down to the division main support battalion.
MAJ HONEC: I think we should highlight a little bit of that air operation's enormous task ... an enormous task that you folks had to handle for the theatre-wide. How well did those operations go? Give me some figures on the ballast moved.
COL ZIERDT: Well, we were eventually receiving between 400 to 500 pallets a day. This was starting in ... by the late September-October time frame. Around here if we handled 30 or 40 on an exercise, that would be a big deal and a lot of work, so we have amplified this by ten-fold. And again, the soldiers knew their jobs around here. They had done it for 30 or 40, so now they knew the procedures and the system, it's just all of a sudden the volume got great. And it required more people and more forklifts and more equipment to do the loading and things. But our soldiers also kept doing it over and over and got an awful lot more proficient in their tasks, too. A forklift loader who used to maybe take an hour to load four trucks learned how to do it in 10 or 15 minutes.
MAJ HONEC: Enormous, an enormous improvement. And motivation? The hours they were working were 24 hours op[eration]s, was it not?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yes, 24 hours a day. And then when soldiers were not working 12 hours, they were working probably at least 16 hours a day and overlapping.
MAJ HONEC: Tremendous! Tremendously motivated people.
COL ZIERDT: They were working around the clock and in the heat of the day. We found it when it was 130 or 140 degrees over there, you just could hardly work.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah.
COL ZIERDT: Again, we forget now how bad it was last August and September, but it was, you know, just the worst thing I've ever been in. Especially when you first arrive there, that first week you could hardly do anything in the afternoon. You became lethargic and just couldn't do things. But after a while, you know, we got a little bit more used to it. Then by September and October, the weather got better and better.
You had to learn to not do things in the middle of the afternoon. You would work all night when it was a little cooler, when it was down to 100 degrees or something. But you just didn't go out in 130 or 140 degree heat and load trucks. Or you didn't send a convoy down the road at 1:00 or 12:00 in the afternoon to deliver something around 4:00 or 5:00. Because we actually had tractor trailers driving down the highway and had their tires start on fire it got so hot.
MAJ HONEC: Really?
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: A big impact on operations for that.
COL ZIERDT: But so eventually we just had to learn to adjust for the climate. You know, we did that and things worked out. We also, I had mentioned Class IX and different things.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: But, I mean, we were receiving ammunition at the port. And each day more ships were coming in, and we were loading thousands and thousands of short tons of ammunition into our ammunition supply points. I had one company, 8th Ordnance, who set up the big ASP in the quarry that eventually had 70,000 to 80,000 short tons of ammunition in it. And then when we were filling that up, I moved them forward and had them establish another ASP out in the middle of the defensive area. They did that for two or three weeks, until a new company came over and relieved them; and then they moved to a third ASP and set that up.
MAJ HONEC: This intermediate ASP that they set ... could you identify what area that was in?
COL ZIERDT: Well, that was, we called it ASP HEISER.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: And it was located up the MSR [Main Supply Route], you know, it was in the 24th Infantry Division area of operations.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. That would have been VIDALIA?
COL ZIERDT: Yes. But it was ... it was just an enormous task going through and setting up, you know, laying out your ammunition and laying out your Class I system and laying out your water system. Every one of these is a story unto itself to go through a particular commodity. And it was my big concern, going back to the deployment phase, when I first started deploying ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes?
COL ZIERDT: ... I called MILPERCEN [Military Personnel Center] and said I need help. I said, "Yeah, we can survive with a captain ammo officer around here, or we can survive with a captain doing this or that." Because Fort Bragg, it's fairly consistent and doesn't change much. But as I saw the mission in Saudi Arabia, I said "I need a Class I expert and I need a Class III expert, and Class V."
And so the Army system sent lieutenant colonels in to me to do each one of those, which was very helpful because we then had people with experience who had done some of this stuff before, been into Vietnam, and had been around. They had been in Europe or Korea and seen a field army set up--as opposed to our young captains who were good, sharp kids but they just haven't seen as much and don't know, have the wide experience that these guys do.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. These lieutenant colonels were being drawn from other army areas?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yes, they came from CASCOM, they came from the Quartermaster School, the Ordnance School, from AMC.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: At this point in time 1st COSCOM was literally going out and just grabbing people wherever we needed them from. This is in talking to General Solomon and others, you know, we probably need to identify some of these people for a future deployment. I mean, some lieutenant colonel who is teaching ammunition at the ammo school, but he always knows that if 1st COSCOM goes some place in a big deployment five years from now, and he is there, and he goes with us. So, we may tap some people that are in the school system or in the AMC system or some place that would then round us out and fill us up with some quality people, because you don't need those people day in and day out.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: In peacetime there is no requirement for them around here. I guess another big point I would like to make is that all of these units that were arriving in country, the maintenance companies and supply companies and ammo companies, the ones that came over there and did a great job were the ones that did that job in the States. You know, the 8th Ordnance Company did a great job because they run an ASP every day at Fort Bragg, so they go over there and do it, and it is the same thing that they have been doing. Or, the 403d Cargo Transfer Company runs the CRP, the Consolidated Receipt Point, here at Fort Bragg. So when I asked them to go do it in airfield and do it for the whole Corps, it was bigger, yes, but it was something that they have always done. Now, we had other units come over there that did not do very well at first, and the MEDSOM was one of those. But MEDSOM around here handles about 300 lines of supplies in very small numbers. All of a sudden they were going to Saudi Arabia and having to handle 20,000 lines in vast quantities ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes, sir.
COL ZIERDT: ... they did not know what they were doing. They didn't know how to do receipt processing. They did not know how to batch things. They didn't know how to set up their warehouse properly because they had never really been stressed. Now, they learned it and by the time this was all over, they operated great. But they really had problems early on because they had never been challenged around here. They could handle those 300 lines on the back of an envelope and a good sharp sergeant or warrant officer could memorize them all. When you go to a huge procedure, you've got to have your system running right and have everybody know exactly how you ought to do things.
MAJ HONEC: Did you have enough computing power out there, enough data processing assets?
COL ZIERDT: No, that's one thing we bought a lot of. As we got over there, we found that we were short. And a lot of people needed different computers. Well, there are two types of computers, I mean, the Zenith laptops and the things that we need for reports.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: And we didn't have enough of those, and so we bought a lot of those. We went out locally and just went through the procurement officers and procured it. But we found every one of our computer systems: The SASS, which is the ammunition system; the SAAR, which is the retail supply system; the TAMIS. Every one of our systems had problems over there: it was too slow, and in many cases we over expanded the memory. Because, again, we make some administrative adjustments in our SAAR system around here. We have a CIF [Central Issue Facility] where you get your TA-50 [organizational clothing and equipment]. We have a SSSC [Self-Service Supply Center] where you go buy a lot of things. But in Saudi we didn't have a CIF or a SSSC, so they had to add that to their computers in the divisions and in the Corps. So, all of a sudden we, in many cases, overfilled that computer and then just slowed down, just about stopped. And the computers, because of the volumes we were dealing in, were not fast enough and not able to keep up. So, we did have some problems in that area.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. And of course that would have a ripple effect, wouldn't it, sir, through the whole system slowing down and everything?
COL ZIERDT: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Class IV, the availability of that to do ... to ... you set up all of these storage areas. You obviously had to have protection. On the short ... in the very beginning was there enough Class IV available, or what about the availability of boards, not boards, but, I mean, wood and barbed wire and that sort of things?
COL ZIERDT: Barbed wire and that type. Yes, we were using most of that stuff. You had your plywood and stuff.
MAJ HONEC: You had it?
COL ZIERDT: We were more interested in using the plywood and the wood we had got to concentrate on troop areas, and try to build latrines and showers and just improve life support out in every one of our base camps. We were able to solve most ... from a supply point of view. Again, we were in the Dhahran-Dammam area, so we rented a lot of warehouses and open space and covered spaces where we needed them, and we were able to then store things in that area there.
MAJ HONEC: These had fences around them and such?
COL ZIERDT: Yes. As we moved out in the desert, we just left things out in the open. Now, if we had ... and we set up in defensive positions out there. Had we stayed there many more months, we had plans to start building K-stand [?] buildings and start building this stuff up out in the desert, but we did not ever, you know, get to that point of doing that.
But we did use the Dhahran area quite a bit because of the way the Corps was configured. The 24th Division went out into the desert and set up in the desert, but the 82d set up a CHAMPION MAIN and Ab Qaiq, so they were in sort of close. The 101st Airborne Division, although they deployed out to the covering force area near [Forward Operating Base] BASTOGNE, basically most of their troops stayed in the King Fahd International Airport area. So, we had everyone in fairly close. And then when you start looking at the separate brigades: the 525 MP Brigade--[correction] the 525[th] MI [Military Intelligence] Brigade--the 16th MP [Military Police] Brigade, the 35th Signal Brigade, the 20th Engineers. Most of these headquarters and a lot of their units were in the Dhahran area. So, we had to then leave the 46th Support Group and some of our units in that area because that was where all of our customers were. In the non-divisional combat service support role, you've got to be where your customers are.
Later on, though, as we expanded, as the 24th set up, as more engineers started arriving, they started moving out to the 1st Cav[alry Division] area or the 24th area or up to the Covering Force area. The more they got out there, then we had to send our units out there. And I eventually had half the COSCOM or at least 12,000 soldiers we had living out in the tents, out in the desert, because they were out with the 1st Cav and the 24th and the 3d ACR [Armored Cavalry regiment]. So, we had over half of our people living out forward, providing support to people out there.
But we had some funny or different relationships in that the 46th, you know, sort of stayed in the Dhahran area because the 82d didn't go very far out. We just had to configure things properly to support the customers.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: The other thing is, we were very short on transportation over there, so we were contracting for a lot of it.
MAJ HONEC: How did that go?
COL ZIERDT: The contracting worked out very well, and filled in where we had shortages. But I have problems. As a CSS commander I go in and ask for X number of rental cars. And BG(P) [Edison] Scholes [Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps] was in charge of allocating them. And he decided one day, well, he would give each division 50 rental cars and only give me 35. Well, what I had to go explain to him was the divisions are ALO-14 divisions. They have every vehicle they are supposed to have. And you give them 50 rental cars and that is just 50 extra. I was able to sit down and document I had 180 shortages of CUCVs [M-1008-series Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle], the CUCVs we were supposed to have, and didn't have them. So, I said I'm not asking for vehicles just to have as extras, I'm asking to fill TO&E shortages, 685 vehicles. And being an infantryman and only used to growing up in ALO-1 units, he really doesn't understand how many shortages we really have. Once I laid this out and went to the Corps Commander, then he allowed me to rent a vehicle for every shortage we had.
I had units ... such as the 4th Materiel Management Center [which] is authorized 23 CUCVs; they had four on hand. And they have probably 80 or 90 officers and their whole job is to go visit all the maintenance companies in the divisions to make sure that we are supporting them properly; but with four vehicles they cannot do that. And so eventually we got the vehicles for them, were able to give those to them, and they could go out and do their missions. A lot of time ... in peacetime, you don't use these vehicles anyway, you just use your POV [privately owned vehicle] and drive around and visit people. You can do it if you just live on Fort Hood or Fort Bragg, it's easy just to go here and there.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: But when you get into Saudi Arabia and have one unit 200 miles away from another unit and it is spread out so much, it's an all-day trip to go visit people. You just don't hop a ride with somebody to do so. A lot of our shortages like that became very apparent over there. And a lot of times in peacetime we can kid ourselves. You know, when the medical unit doesn't have a fuel truck or a water truck, they go out to the field for two weeks and they just go to one of their sister companies and borrow one and go out there, and everything works great. But when we are all in the field and all have the same problems, you can't borrow from each other, and so your shortages become much more apparent. So, we had to analyze those shortages, especially the TO&E-type shortages and then go rent equipment. We were able to rent water trucks and we were able to rent fuel trucks. And we really could. If you really had a serious problem over there, then a company commander could bring up, a battalion commander ... it would work it's way up and we would go run it and solve it.
MAJ HONEC: Any views on the quality of the trucks that you would be able to rent that come from the Saudi nationals, the Saudi rental agencies?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we rented some ... early, on we were able to get pretty good trucks when we first came in there. We were able to get flatbeds and other things. But the more and more we expanded from 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000 or 40,000 people, and got up to 300,000, you know, the further we went down. I mean, we really started getting some "dogs," vehicles they had probably put in the can[nibalization] yard and then when they found out, hey, the Army wants these, they would jury-rig them and try to do something to get them operating and bring them to us and rent them to us. So, we got some vehicles that could hardly make it one way.
MAJ HONEC: Later on?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah, later on.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But a lot of the trucks were good trucks, and our soldiers enjoyed driving them. When we sent drivers over early on before we got the trucks there, and they drove the civilian vehicles and didn't have too much problem. Again, transportation is something that is very easy to get in a host nation country. In Panama we rented several hundred trucks to help move all the ammo and weapons were finding in caches all over the country. But we were able to solve all that just by going out and renting vehicles and drivers and things. In Saudi, we in the COSCOM basically went out and just rented trucks to fill shortages.
MAJ HONEC: Sure.
COL ZIERDT: We had many units that were ALO-3 that came over there authorized 60 trucks, only had 50 on hand. But we had enough drivers and support there to take care of ten more, so we would go rent ten and add them to that company.
MAJ HONEC: There were large numbers of drivers being sent to Saudi Arabia for that purpose. Can you give me some idea of the numbers in the beginning here, your requirement?
COL ZIERDT: Well, the COSCOM was short 300 or 400 truck drivers.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: And so, you know, we had a requirement for that. A lot of the drivers though, I mean, eventually 3,000 or 4,000 drivers came into Saudi Arabia, but just about every one of those went to the SUPCOM. Now, the 1st COSCOM had, as I mentioned, 22,000 soldiers.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: But 17,000 of those were active and 5,000 were Reserves. So, we were mostly 80 percent active force. You know, had good quality people and had most of our equipment. Then, we had the shortages here and there. But, I mean, in general we were in pretty good shape. The SUPCOM was just about all Reserves. They had very few active units in the SUPCOM and a very high percentage of Reserves and an awful lot of shortages of not having equipment. So, they were very reliant on host nation drivers to drive trucks. And we had all of these Third Country--Bangladeshi and Indian and Pakistani--drivers that were driving on the highways for us. But we were worried that when the war started they would leave.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. That was an issue?
COL ZIERDT: Yes. So, these several thousand drivers that eventually came over were used more in the SUPCOM and more to fill those type of positions.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Many of the drivers were drivers in name only. They were [Military Occupational Specialty] 11B (infantrymen) with a driver's license.
MAJ HONEC: But an 88M [Driver military occupational specialty].
COL ZIERDT: Or an 88M straight out of AIT [advanced individual training] that really wasn't trained to drive a HET [heavy equipment transporter] or a big rig. In peacetime here you can handle 88M coming in without much training, and we run our own driver school for two weeks and train them. Over there, we needed a kid hitting the ground that knew what he was doing.
So, we would generally get a room full of new soldiers and say, "Who has driven a big rig?" And they would raise their hand, and then they would go to a certain type of unit. But generally, we had a problem. I mean, you just can't take a run-of-the-mill driver, a kid with a license, and put them in a HET pulling a 65-ton tank.
MAJ HONEC: Very good point. Early on, there was a heavy reliance on that ... on vehicles. As your ships were arriving in port, did you get all of your equipment that was shipped over, or were there some ships that waylaid, broke down or whatever, delayed?
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: What was the overall performance of the movement across the water, of the COSCOM across the water, to Saudi Arabia?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we did not have many breakdowns that I am aware of, except the 24th Infantry Division had one breakdown that had their whole DISCOM [division support command] on it, that really caused problems.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Because the DAS-4 van and some other things did not show up. So, the 24th Infantry Division had a particular problem with their DISCOM being on a ship that broke down. Our problem was more that equipment that we had driven to the port, you know, a company that we had delivered all their equipment to the port on the 27th of August or the 15th of September or what have you, would not all get loaded on one ship. I mean, they would take this company that maybe had 50 pieces of equipment and put 12 on this ship and then 15 on the next ship. Sometimes it would take four or five ships coming out of Wilmington or coming out of Savannah before all of this company showed up. Because the people loading the ships said "give me ten 5-tons" and then they would go grab ten 5-tons; and then "give me four parts vans or four forklifts or something." And so the way they loaded the ship was to optimize the space in the ship. The problem in Saudi Arabia was then ...
[END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE ONE]
COL ZIERDT: It was more for an armor battalion, that they want their tanks to drive off first and they load their ship less than normal. But what I'm talking about is just they are taking what is convenient down in the port. I mean, it's hard--having worked at these support activities, it's sort of hard to figure out exactly where units are. And I wouldn't complain about that as much if we were in just two ships, but when you start spreading out in four and five and six ships, which we eventually did, it really gets confusing at the other end and helps you not be able to deploy as quickly and as readily as you would like to.
MAJ HONEC: Good point. That's a good point. It affects combat ... the COSCOM's effectiveness by this staggered load situation. Any other ... ?
COL ZIERDT: I guess the other thing is in support arrangements. You know the SUPCOM was working a lot of this. But we were getting POL deliveries. We would, for example, go out and set up bag farms, places to store 100,000 or 500 or a million gallons of POL. Then at first we had the SUPCOM contracting Samarac5 tankers who would come deliver to us.
Then later on as our tankers started coming in we could, you know, take part of that business. But the infrastructure in Saudi Arabia was really terrific in being able to provide the support that they provided. I mean, the bottled water that we had made in their water plants and loaded on their trucks and then delivered to our soldiers, just saved us having to produce it ourselves, having to move it ourselves, saved us a lot. If we had moved into a bare-based country with no host nation support, you know, we would not have been nearly as successful as we were. I mean, we were fortunate in being in, let's say, Saudi Arabia as opposed to Iran or some other worst places. But food ...
MAJ HONEC: The host nation people?
COL ZIERDT: ... the host nation people, you know, provided us Class A rations and B rations. They would provide us just about anything we needed. So again, their contracts were set up and they were delivering bread and fruit and all. In the sanitation area they were building, well, we had to contract for it, but we built latrines and showers and wash stands. And the Surgeon General has said that we had the lowest rate of non-battle injuries we've ever had any place in the whole world. And it is because our soldiers had fresh fruit and milk and fluids to drink and they had sanitation facilities early on. We built latrines for it. So, that stuff was all available, see, it helped our sanitation quite a bit.
MAJ HONEC: Well, the ASP. One other question I have is ... the ASP was set up in a rock quarry. Was this a deliberate attempt to make an open air ammunition storage area that had high walls with rock walls as a protective measure because of the enormity of being theatre ASP as well as the Corps ASP (dual role)? Was that the thinking going into setting up that huge operation?
COL ZIERDT: Yes. We eventually just needed a location, but that was a perfect location because it was a quarry, because it offered protection in it. Whenever you store that much ammunition in one area, you are always worried that if a SCUD rocket or something were to hit that, if you store all the stuff too close together or something, you are liable to lose every bit of ammunition you have. So, as an ammunition officer you are required to separate it out. But whenever you have berms or walls, that offers you a lot more storage capability within a given area than if it is just on a flat piece of land. So, yes, the quarry ended up being the perfect place to store all of that ammunition.
MAJ HONEC: Materiel handling equipment--did you have enough?
COL ZIERDT: No. [LAUGHTER]
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Why?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we have it authorized in our TO&Es, but we were all short a little bit.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. So it is not a systemic problem?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we probably have a systemic problem in that we don't have all on the TO&Es that we really need. But even the TO&Es are short. For example, in the medical area, our hospitals are each authorized a 10K [10,000-pound] forklift. Very few of them even have them. So, I had to come up with plans where I would take the 10K forklifts out of the ASP, go help the hospitals for a few days, and then set up. But the hospitals would be okay if they had what they were authorized.
But you have other companies, like the ammo companies--we were moving so much stuff there they just didn't have enough forklifts. I mean, if I could have given ten more, they could have kept them all busy and downloaded ammunition an awful lot faster.
I think, ideally, having thought about this, I would like everyone to have the forklifts that they are authorized and fill everybody, but I would like to supplement the COSCOM by a forklift company that has some platoons to it and has lowboys to move them around. And then all of a sudden I can say, "Okay, you know, send the platoon over to the hospital today and help them set up." Then next week when ammo is coming in, coming out of our teeth, I would send the whole company over and help unload at the ASP. And then when the airfield is getting backlogged, I can send in a different platoon over there. So, it has as mixture of 10K and 6K and 4K forklifts, and it is something that you can swing left or right and put it at your center of gravity, where your biggest problem is. Now, unfortunately when the TO&E writers hear about this, they will take everybody's forklift away and put them in one company.
That would not be a good solution because everybody has to ... I mean, the hospital still has to have that forklift around as they adjust and move things around. So, I don't want to take anybody's forklifts away. But I think if you look at what we move and everything there is a requirement there for more. Let's put all these more in one company and then we can move it around. During the war we had to think through all this and ... well, I will discuss this in the offensive operations point.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. You are talking about Log Base CHARLIE, perhaps? The fact that other transportation assets were consolidated into, under the 7th Transportation Group? The meds [medical units] were under 44th Med Brigade, all that?
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. We will go on to that, to the offensive. Any other issues? In the defensive phase, obviously you were intensively, intensely planning for the offensive phase, when that ever showed up, because just about every day it was a possibility that they would come across and it would automatically become an offensive/defensive situation.
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: How did your planning, how did your plan weather in that particular, going from offensive to defensive, I mean during the defensive? Did you have to make any changes to your plan based on experiences of when you got in country, now, and you saw the conditions there; then they started to move out, the Corps started to disperse, and move into pre-offensive positions and what not? Many changes?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we had a lot of changes. You had to be very flexible.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
COL ZIERDT: Terrain management was just a heck of a problem. We would go into the 24th Division area and talk to the G-3 or the DISCOM commander, and say we would like to put an ASP to support you right here. They would say, "Roger, yes, you can do that, you can have that piece of ground." We would then go back and had to work a request. To put an ASP in this piece of desert, we had to work that request back through the government. We would get it approved and then go out there and a brigade would put their brigade trains there. Then the division would say, "I'm sorry, we're not moving them."
MAJ HONEC: Aha!
COL ZIERDT: So, then we would then have to go find another one. So we had a ... terrain management was really a problem.
MAJ HONEC: Good, I wanted to point to that.
COL ZIERDT: And we had to ... you know, an ASP is a very heavily traveled area with a lot of tonnage and things, so you have to have very hardened ground. You have to have, you know, a good area. Of course everybody wants those good areas. The desert is all different in ... there are great areas, good areas, and very bad areas. Invariably the first people in there, even if they are an armor brigade, they want the best area, they are going to take the best area if they can, not realizing that those behind them have less and less mobility and need that good area worse than they do. But ... so we had terrain management problems in trying to locate that.
Then we had problems in that we had shaped the battlefield, and the Division Commander (MG [Barry] McCaffrey) was planning on fighting in a certain area, so he didn't want any support going in there. So, we had to position our support around MSRs and away from places where the fight was going to occur. So we ... positioning forces for the defense was not very easy.
And like I said, later on when we went to Iraq and other things, you could do whatever you wanted. But back early in September and October, you had to negotiate with sheiks and emirs and different people on exactly where you could put things. You know, they just wouldn't let you put things sometimes where you wanted them because it was too close to their town or too close to their water supply or something.
MAJ HONEC: Was that the only consideration of the folks, too close to their water, water supplies?
COL ZIERDT: Water supplies and the town, those were basically the main things that I can recall.
MAJ HONEC: I see. Did you have a lot if problems along those lines on that particular issue of being sensitive to the locals?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yeah, we had an awful lot of problems. Again, we have probably all forgotten them now, but it became very emotional and we would set something up and they would want us to move. Of course you're trying to get along with the people. I mean, we're there to help them, but, I mean, we need to get along with them too.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. They of course realized that we were there to protect them. Do you think that they realize this sort of thing?
COL ZIERDT: I think they do.
MAJ HONEC: They do?
COL ZIERDT: But they just wanted us to help by being up forward or over in some area and further away from them. [LAUGHTER] I'm sure any civilian population is concerned when you see an army encampment going up in your area. You're worried that there will be fighting in your area because the army is there, and so probably there is always going to be a concern. You know, "I'm glad these guys are here, but I wish they would go down the road a piece and stay away from us."
MAJ HONEC: Did it change when the SCUDs started falling?
COL ZIERDT: Well, when the SCUDs started falling, we were moving to offensive areas and we didn't have that problem. After the war started, officially started, on the 17th of January we didn't have a problem.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, okay, okay. The 507 Support Group got reorganized in theatre during offensive phase, I understand. Is that true?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah, well, we were getting the 101st Support Group, COL Beauchamp's group, got a TO&E change. They were a TDA6 organization at Fort Campbell ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: ... and they became a full-fledged support group as they deployed over and got filled up. The 507th .. and then once I found out that was able to be approved, I called back to the DA staff and was able to work through COL Roskin at DCSOPS [Department of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations] and get the 507th converted [from a transportation group]. But in reality, we had already plussed up the 507th and given them some more people, and they were in fairly good shape to do what they needed to do ahead of time. So, this MTO&E [Modified Table of Organization and Equipment] change really just officially blessed what we were already informally doing.
MAJ HONEC: Good, okay.
COL ZIERDT: And it authorized them more equipment, which they took advantage of being over there and picked up. So, it was a very beneficial time that all this happened for that unit.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Physically, the training ... let's see, is it NTC [National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California] or JRTC [Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas] that the COSCOM has sent units over to train desert liking?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we don't send an awful lot. We send some people to the NTC. We send [parachute] rigger companies and truck companies and sometimes we sent people there, both the JRTC and the NTC. But that hasn't been as extensive for the non-divisional force as it is for all the divisions.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, it hasn't?
COL ZIERDT: Yes. I wouldn't say that, for the units I'm familiar with, we haven't gotten a great training benefit out of JRTC or NTC. Now, some soldiers here and there but ... . I know what you're after, how did that help us? It really didn't. I mean, it helped out the combat units just tremendously, but in our case I don't think it was that much help.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. So, the big help was really actually having had planned this in INTERNAL LOOK, gone through this exercise ahead of time, practically had the planning all, you know, just had to change the dates and some of the subtitles on the plan because you already had gone through this exercise?
COL ZIERDT: Mm-hmm.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Just one other thing is, VII Corps. As the VII Corps started to arrive, what sorts of things did your COSCOM do to help the sister COSCOM in the VII Corps come up to speed with area conditions? You had been through it, is what I'm thinking about.
COL ZIERDT: Well, we were able to influence VII Corps to send their COSCOM first, not last.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: So VII Corps, as they deployed, they sent their COSCOM, one of the first units, over in the country. And as they sent each division, they sent their DISCOM first; and as they sent a brigade, they sent their forward support battalion first. So, they learned from us that you really need to get your support on the ground first. Also, BG Bob McFarlin [Commanding General, 2d Support Command (Corps)] is a good friend of mine and I've known him for a number of years. So Bob came over and sat down with me and we went through and afternoon with him on lessons learned and gave him copies of our field SOPs, showed him how we set up, and just opened up a dialogue of communications. Then he later on had his other staff get with our staff and work out details.
MAJ HONEC: Good.
COL ZIERDT: Now, as they started arriving in country, once the ship started arriving, again, we had our ASLs [authorized stockage levels] were built up. We had maintenance companies in the Dhahran/Dammam area. So, all of his people as they came through, we were providing maintenance support, supply support and as people needed things ... I mean, we readily treated them as much a customer as we would anybody in XVIII Airborne Corps. So, we were able to help them out a lot that way, you know, to get them started.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Any other particular defensive issues that we haven't covered, defensive phase issues?
COL ZIERDT: No, except just defense is a heck of a lot easier than offensive, because in defense you can pre-position things. You put a lot of stuff to the rear. As your units are falling back initially, you get closer and closer to your logistics. The more you fall back, the easier our job gets. So, defensively it was fairly easy to set things up, and we do that all the time, so that was the easier part of our operation.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Should we take a break?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, please.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Sir, we are going to move on into the offensive phase of DESERT STORM--DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM--the offensive phase and talk a little bit about ... somewhat from your view, assess some of the issues that you were faced with as a commander.
COL ZIERDT: Okay. Well, we started planning for DESERT STORM early in November. And the corps commander had the mission to sweep out west, so he tasked us to do analysis of what we logistically could support. So the way it was eventually decided to do it, we swung further out west than the normal combat guys would have liked, but that was done because of road networks and because there was one north/south road and one east/west road and we had to center how we could support the force through those roads. So, based on our ...
MAJ HONEC: In other words, to identify it, it was Main Supply Route TEXAS and Main Supply Route VIRGINIA, you were talking about?
COL ZIERDT: Right, MSR, yeah, TEXAS, which is the north/south road, and MSR Virginia, that was the east/west road. And then we also decided to build logistics bases. Now, early on, November and December, when we were planning this, we were very worrisome about getting enough supplies out west so that we could support this whole attack and everything we had to do. And we kept, we ... I and then LTG Luck and then LTG Yeosock, kept going to GEN Schwarzkopf and trying to get permission to set up out west, and he even once or twice gave us permission and then withdrew it within 24 hours. Because GEN Schwarzkopf was trying to maintain the operational security of the plan and once he allowed us to go out west, then they might see what we were doing.
And obviously what he did worked because the Iraqis had no idea we were going to attack on the 17th of January when we kicked off the attack. And that was because they saw us still sitting back in our defensive positions and not really moving into anything you could consider that you could consider an offensive position. They probably never thought that we would do the air war for 30 days and then the ground war; they thought they would be simultaneous.
So anyway, I had the problem in that I was not allowed to position one piece of equipment or one stick of supplies west of KKMC [King Khalid Military City]. But we spent the whole month of December and early January moving everything we possibly could into KKMC. So we had 30,000 tons of ammunition there, we had our ammo companies there, we had our evac[uation] hospitals there, we had some of the other hospitals and our MEDSOM there. And we were starting to build up other supplies of Class IX and different units. So, we pre-positioned just about everything we could that made sense in the back of KKMC into some wide-open area down south of KKMC.
When the war started, when the first bomb dropped at 0300, at 0400 COL Al Sullivan led a convoy down the road to start establishing Log Base CHARLIE. You know, we had had some recons [reconnaissance trips] out there who could send a few people in a civilian vehicle and recon, so we knew exactly where we were going to put things. We had arranged for engineer support, so the engineers were in there early to put in roads for us to set things up. But starting at 0400 on the 17th, we started moving convoys.
And the 507th just did an absolutely tremendous job of moving supplies up there, dropping them off, coming back and picking up more. They did it through using every one of their own trucks. They just downloaded their own stuff. Or they would remove a repair parts vans and then take that tractor, hook up a trailer, and use it for supplies. They would do it by what we call "hot seating" the vehicles. They would have a driver up there sleeping for eight hours. The vehicle would pull up from KKMC. They would unload the supplies. That driver would go to sleep. The other driver would then get in the vehicle and drive it right back, load up, come back, make the loop. So, they would drive to KKMC, fill up, drive back, and then get a break. And then we were rotating drivers through doing that.
MAJ HONEC: The distances involved? Would you say about 180 miles, sir, would you say?
COL ZIERDT: A 180 miles? Yeah, that's about right. Yeah, each way was about 180 miles. And so the 507th Group had that mission. That's all they were ... they were to establish Log Base CHARLIE and to set up a Class I and Class III and Class V and Class IX yards, and a [Class] II and IV yard, and completely set up supplies out there.
MAJ HONEC: Why that area for Log Base CHARLIE? What were the considerations of picking that particular area to set up the log base? It was south, 70 kilometers south of Rafha, for one thing, which was the Corps' headquarters.
COL ZIERDT: Yeah, we didn't want to ... I mean, we had hoped ... initially we were going to go up the road from Rafha and use MSR TEXAS. We had hoped to use MSR TEXAS for the first week or so of the war, and then we were going to start using MSR GEORGIA, which was on our right. So, as we improved MSR Georgia and made it better and better, our eventual plan was to move right. So, we put the log base sort of in the middle of those two roads. And then eventually we were going to dry up Log Base CHARLIE. That was our initial stocks to support the whole war. We eventually hoped to empty it out, and then start supporting ourselves out of KKMC as we went further east towards Kuwait.
But, I mean, that's just a great story, what the 507th did. They pulled off ... they just surprised LTG Luck and surprised me and just did a great job of setting all that up. All the battalion commanders and company commanders and everybody involved in that just did a great job.
Now, once the bombing campaign started, though, we also then started the corps move. The Movement Control Center was in charge of doing that. Our group commanders, I took COL Sparky Wilson, the 46th Support Group commander, and made him in charge of the southern routes. So, he was the commander for LTG Luck of that southern route; was responsible for any maintenance problems, convoy problems, breakdowns. Anything that was happening on that southern route he was supposed to straighten out.
Then we took COL Ross Leidy, our 171st Support Group commander, and put him in charge of the northern route to do the same thing. Then we collected all of our transportation assets. We had earlier, in the December time frame, we had moved the 1st Cav Division. They had left the Corps and been chopped to ARCENT, so we had moved them up near KKMC. And we found that you just can't have transportation companies spread all over, attached to every battalion the way we do in our multi-functional array.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: We found out that you couldn't do that very efficiently and then get them all to converge at the 1st Cav and then move them. So when we got ready to move the rest of the corps, we moved all the truck company headquarters into one convoy consolidation point, that we call it; put them under the command of COL Joel McGrady, the 29th Trans Group commander. He commanded the Southern Convoy Consolidation Point. Then we took LTC Jack Stevenson, from the 189th Maintenance Battalion, and put him on a Northern Convoy Consolidation Point. So we could have our convoys move in between these two units.
But then we spent about 21 days and moved this entire corps. The statistics will be part of history, because no army has ever done anything quite as magnificent as this, not just American Army, but Germany Army or anyone. When you look at all the great moves and the surprising maneuvers that were made in the North Africa Campaigns or the Battle of the Bulge or anything else, they all pale in comparison to what we pulled off. By moving this whole corps 600 miles in 20 days and then completely outflanking in enveloping the Iraqis, it was just a magnificent feat. Intra-theatre air was a great asset that we had.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah.
COL ZIERDT: We had over 1,250 sorties of air that moved from King Fahd and moved the 82d and the 101st basically out of the Dhahran area up to Rafha, landed at Rafha where I had truck companies on standby to then move them to their tactical assembly areas. But they moved not just people, they moved over 15,000 people, but they also moved an awful lot of their HMMWVs [M-998-series High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles] and wheeled vehicles that they needed. So, ... .
MAJ HONEC: All of this movement was done, theoretically, under the noses of the Iraqis. What helped out, what specific measures did you have to take to keep the deception plan intact?
COL ZIERDT: Well, they were being bombed and had so much going on from an air war point of view ...
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: ... that I just don't think they had the eyes down there to see what was going on. Now, I even ... we know that in the Rafha area there are all kinds of Iraqi sympathizers who obviously saw what we were doing; could count airplanes coming in. But I think by then, by the time we really started doing that, which wasn't really until the 20th or the 25th of January, I mean, our air campaign had been going on for over a week, I think by then most of the Iraqi communications were knocked out. And even a sympathizer or an Iraqi agent sitting in Rafha wouldn't even be able to make a phone call back to tell them what was going on. So, it just cut out even their human intelligence. So, you know, it really was a magnificent feat. The Movements Control Center was controlling convoys. The SUPCOM gave us a whole bunch of vehicles---the lowboys and lowboys and flatbeds and HETs that we used to help move people. But we pulled it off, now.
MAJ HONEC: The various convoy rest points that were so helpful in moving everyone through the system, who decided on the staffing and the position of those?
COL ZIERDT: MG Pagonis did that.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Unfortunately ... but when we started it, they weren't staffed as well as they should have been because SUPCOM's people had not yet arrived.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: On the 15th of January, we really were short an awful lot of people in country: VII Corps wasn't here yet and a lot of the SUPCOM reservists were not here. As a matter of fact, as I stopped on those things, you would meet people and they had only been in country two or three days. So when we first started, there were a lot of shortages of mechanics and cooks and people to clean things and other things. So we ended up taking soldiers, several hundred soldiers, out of COSCOM to support each, the northern and southern route, to augment and help out. But by the time we came back through, then SUPCOM was handling that totally by themselves.
But again, as convoy, I mean, the rest areas and the convoy support centers, that is an idea from the REFORGERs in Europe. It is another example of how we have just taken something we have done in peacetime and then lay it in on our theater there and use that concept. So the things you learn in peace, you, even though it is not in the doctrine or something else, it is a good idea that you lay in to do some of this.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But we had first planned this whole operation ... we had planned to start the attack after 14 days. We could have moved this entire Corps in 14 days; however, that was contingent upon VII Corps should have already been in place, and we were the only ones moving on the highway. As it turned out, VII Corps had not yet arrived on 15 January. They were a couple of weeks behind the schedule due to the weather in Europe and ships and other things, so we were both moving at once. So there was no way to complete it in 14 days, but we did finish it in 21 days, even with the greatly reduced transportation. But then even after 21 days, yeah, we didn't start the attack until the 24th of February. So you go from 17 January to 24 February, there is a lot of time in there. We had planned everything on this 14-day "build up supplies and go launch the attack," and now we had an extra three weeks.
So, in that three weeks we had all kinds of time just to get better and better. That's when we set up a flight landing strip [FLS] out in the highway, the Tapline [Trans-Arabian Pipeline] Road in the middle of Log Base CHARLIE. Planned that we put in about 20 aircraft the first day with 6 pallets each, 120 pallets came in. Then the plan was to do that for five days, and then the Air Force would think about it from there.
The Air Force didn't like the idea of coming out in the middle of the desert and landing the C-130s [Hercules] that much, at first. But we set up such a great airfield out there ... used ... just blocked off the highway, so they landed on the highway, built an apron so they could come around and unload. They could unload at least three or four aircraft at once. It was so great that the Air Force just wanted to continue that mission.
MAJ HONEC: Is that right?
COL ZIERDT: We had the pilots competing for who had the most road landings.
MAJ HONEC: Is that right? [LAUGHTER]
COL ZIERDT: So it really was ... and then all the Class IX that was continuing to flow from the States, arriving at Dhahran, would then just be taken off the C-141s, put on the C-130s, and ...
MAJ HONEC: And flown up?
COL ZIERDT: ... flown right up to us. So we just did a tremendous job of getting parts out to people and getting all classes of supplies. As a result, the maintenance was able to pick up and the people that were sitting there ... we had a lot more time to sit around than we had ever anticipated. Now that we had this time and we gave them the repair parts, they were able to fix everything and we had most of our combat systems in Green ... over 95 percent readiness to go into combat. So, it was a great, great help.
MAJ HONEC: Class IX ... the "water hose," if you will, was a little slow at first. But then, as I understand it, a great number of Class IX parts started to come in just before they started the ground war. How did that affect the COSCOM's operations?
COL ZIERDT: Well, it helped the readiness.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah, but I mean ...
COL ZIERDT: The things slowed down, we didn't get that many parts in earlier because a lot of the aircraft were moving units.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Yeah, we had ebbs and flows in everything, but Class IX was one that at first everything was coming in fairly smoothly the first few months. Then we got a whole bunch of reserve units that came over with no ASLs, no bench stock, or no shop stock. So those units had to order everything. And then we ordered so much it clogged the system, and so we had to unclog that. And then later on you had problem with a whole bunch of units, more reserve units, coming into the flow. And so the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] had to make a decision are we going to move this unit or are we going to move these repair parts. So, it would come and go.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But you can just look at the readiness rates all across December and January and February, and the darn system worked and we got what we needed. Yeah, everybody always wants more, but we did our job or the readiness rates wouldn't have been as high as they were.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. The FLS obviously was down. That was supposed to be a temporary operation, okay. For five days then the Air Force was supposed to think about continuing it.
COL ZIERDT: But anyway, we continued that the whole time.
MAJ HONEC: Yes. Then there was some other plans. Let's talk about the rapid refueling point.
COL ZIERDT: Yeah, the 101st Support Group set up a rapid refuel point that could refuel 25 aircraft at once. They could not only refuel them, I mean, they could refuel them quickly. Because we had tested it out and found out on the ends of it, you're pumping too slow. At the beginning you're pumping fast and then down here, because you didn't have enough pumps, the flow into the helicopter was too slow. So they modified that and then came up with a way that 25 aircraft could go land some assault troops in Iraq, fly back there, totally refuel, go pick up more people and go on back. So, that was ...
MAJ HONEC: This is an innovation from the ...
COL ZIERDT: From the 101st. LTG Luck said it was the best rapid refuel point he has ever seen in his life. I mean, you can imagine one that it had 25 points and I think 5 extra ones where you could do some rearming, so, I mean, there were 30 points in there. I mean, it had matting down on the ground and all the bags were individually set up so in case we got artillery fire and lost some, that we wouldn't lose everything. So, I mean, it really was just a picture-perfect operation.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Assess the Third Nation support, the drivers that were shipping the ... that were driving the ammunition trucks coming up from KKMC. Did that support ... also how much did that support help, especially in the ammunition department?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we couldn't have made it without the host nation support that we had. I mean, we were relying on them to deliver fuel, and they were the ones delivering fuel from the rear end of our refueling point.
MAJ HONEC: Fuel also, yes.
COL ZIERDT: We had 6 million gallons of fuel at Log Base CHARLIE, and they had to keep that filled and keep our ammo and keep food flowing. So, all that was being done by host nation drivers. We were worried at first that those people were going to leave when the war started, but they didn't do that, they stayed with us ... and especially when you showed you were taking care of them. I mean, we had in our dining facility in Dhahran, you know, we had a whole group of Pakistanis who were worried about leaving. But we gave them protective masks and CPOGs [Chemical Protective Overgarments] and then they were more than willing to stay. I mean, they just didn't want to be ... I mean, you wouldn't want to be the only one around without a chemical suit on yourself.
MAJ HONEC: Good point.
COL ZIERDT: And that's just the way these people felt. So, once you took care of them, then they took care of you, and then you all worked together.
MAJ HONEC: What were the sources of supply for the fuel? Was it all on Riyadh?
COL ZIERDT: I'm sure it was all over the country.
MAJ HONEC: It was?
COL ZIERDT: It was not just in Riyadh.
MAJ HONEC: So the trucks were coming in ... ?
COL ZIERDT: The trucks were coming even from over in the Red Sea area.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: They were picking up some from there. The delivery of fuel in Saudi Arabia is a very complex task that is deserving of an analysis of its own.
MAJ HONEC: Is it?
COL ZIERDT: But the Air Force, in all these air missions they were flying, they were using a tremendous amount of fuel. As a matter of fact, we were at a point to support a big ground offensive and an air defensive at the same time, we couldn't do it. I mean, they were having ... CENTCOM was having to cut back and tell the Air Force you will only fly these missions from out of country, so you got Oman and other countries to get refueled. But there were just a lot of tradeoffs that had to be made between Air Force and Army fuel in country. There were tradeoffs that had to be made between Jet A-1 and diesel and different types of fuels too, you know.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah. Apparently in the early part there was a shortage of diesel and there was an abundance of Jet A, and that's what the vehicles had to be run on.
COL ZIERDT: Well, no. I think the Quartermaster School Doctrine says we want to go to a single fuel on the battlefield, and that would be Jet A-1, which is a JP-5 or a JP-8 eventually is what they want to use. But the Jet A-1 is theoretically what the quartermaster doctrine would tell us that we should use.
But there were some people, like MG McCaffrey, that did not want to use Jet A-1 because it won't generate smoke, and he wanted to have the smoke capability in his tanks when he was fighting the defensive operation; he wanted to be able to lay out smoke; so, he insisted on using diesel. 1st Cav said, no, we'll use Jet A-1; the 101st would use Jet A-1. So, it was an individual decision in each area.
But eventually we found out we could not support the whole Army and the Air Force in Jet A-1. There wasn't enough fuel in Saudi Arabia to do that. So, the Quartermaster School needs to re-look its doctrine. If Saudi Arabia can't support a single fuel on the battlefield, nobody can. But there just weren't enough refineries or enough capability there to give us all the Jet A-1 that we needed.
MAJ HONEC: Would you comment on the pallative available also, the dust pallative? This was a very dusty area, so there were a number of innovations that had to be brought up. "Keep the damn dust down!"
COL ZIERDT: We were using 700,000 gallons of fuel a day keeping dust down the roads and the Saudis did not care about it. It didn't bother them a bit that we were doing that. But, you know, we used it extensively. And we were having trouble ... I remember we were having trouble keeping, we were using so much of it we were running about running low on fuel eventually. So, as we got closer to the war, we were going to tell people not to do it.
MAJ HONEC: Did ... what worked well, what seemed to endure the best in the dust?
COL ZIERDT: I don't know, I mean, the diesel fuel or the Jet A-1, either one of them.
MAJ HONEC: Was it? Okay.
COL ZIERDT: That worked well once you put it down. You had to put it down every two or three days and mix it about right, but after a while that became very good.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. There was something else about the ...
COL ZIERDT: Well, all I've really talked about up to this point is establishing Log Base CHARLIE and getting into our tactical assembly areas. Then when ... once the attack started, I had analyzed ... LTG Luck had given every division so many ... so his attitude was if the division commander asked for something he was going to give it to him, unless it just was an impossible situation for everybody else.
And so each division had about double or triple the amount of ammo that they really can carry or should have, and Class I and other classes of supply. So, when assessing that and knowing that they had all of this ammunition up there, it made no sense for me to follow our normal doctrine and fill up out of the corps storage area and be ready to supply them, knowing that they had this ammo on hand. So I came up with a plan that I would chop trucks to each one of the divisions, not permanently, but I would make available to them trucks to help them upload their own ammo.
MAJ HONEC: Really?
COL ZIERDT: Then we followed along behind each brigade and helped them have a lot more ammo forward than the normal doctrine would call for. And then the war went so darn fast and we shot so little that then our problem was we never downloaded the ammo and couldn't get those trucks back to haul other types of supply. We also did the same thing with petroleum. I had 300 petroleum tankers under my control, and I tried to get all those out forward. So we were following right behind the 24th and the 197th [Infantry Brigade] and people; and we helped them refuel. If any tactician or somebody at the C&GS [Command and General Staff College] looks down there and looks at the attack that the 24th and the 3d ACR did, they would just say no it's impossible, you can't do that because there isn't enough fuel there. But the way we did it was by getting the COSCOM fuel forward and being right there, right in the brigade trains area and helping them do their refuel.
We ... and as they kept going more and more forward, we kept pushing more and more tankers. We eventually ran out of all the COSCOM tankers because they were all forward and nobody could come back. And so we went to the Samarac people, who are the Third Country nationals, who are driving the Samarac tankers. They were only supposed to drop off at Log Base CHARLIE, but we asked them, asked for volunteers to go into Iraq about 150 miles to deliver to Log Base ROMEO and got a hundred of them to volunteer ...
MAJ HONEC: Oh, really?
COL ZIERDT: ... and helped save us in the fuel area and get that going. Of course when the Vice President of Samarac found out about that, he was upset that we had sent his into Iraq. But that one big, huge delivery of almost a million gallons really made the day for us.
MAJ HONEC: I'm glad you brought that up.
COL ZIERDT: Yeah. We had had a plan that we supported this attack by having everyone forward, and then we established Log Base ROMEO, which was up on MSR Virginia. We had planned to set up a huge log base up there and move an ASP up there and get big stocks of supplies there, but when the war ended in hundred hours we really didn't do that. I left the 46th and the 101st Support Group headquarters up there, delivered them supplies and just, you know, kept them in rations and POL and ammo as they needed it. But basically the war all went so fast that we really didn't get into normal resupply.
MAJ HONEC: Before, right before the ground war kicked off, large stocks of bottled water and MREs in your Log Base CHARLIE ... what was our consideration of getting bottled water as opposed to perhaps sending the water purification units up there and hooking up to the established wells in Iraq that we knew about?
COL ZIERDT: Well, the problem with a well is a pump to draw the water out of the ground.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: It's ... like when we were getting ready to set up Log Base CHARLIE, we went up there inspected the well, found out what pump they had, fixed all the right fittings up and so when the war started we could move right into an existing well and make it operate. We had never been into Iraq, so we didn't know, although we knew where wells were on the map and had intel[ligence] where they might be, we had no idea what pumps were there or anything. And the Iraqis have for centuries had a habit of poisoning wells. I mean, they have done that for centuries, that they would poison wells when they leave areas, so we were very sensitive that they were going to poison their wells so we had to make sure we tested the water before we ever started issuing it.
MAJ HONEC: What sorts of agents are used to poison the wells with?
COL ZIERDT: I'm not sure.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: I mean, it may have been mercury or something, but, I mean, they would put heavy metals basically was what they would put in there to poison them. But they did that in the Iraqi/Iran War and they have just done it forever, so we were sensitive that they were going to do that. And we never really did produce water during the attack and even when we set up there ten or fifteen days, we never produced water the way that we wanted to. We tried to put our ROWPUs [reverse osmosis water purification units] up in the Euphrates River, but they had a lot of arsenic and other contamination in there just from industrial waste coming down the river. But we were not able to use the Euphrates River. We eventually found one quarry south of the Euphrates, but I'm not sure exactly where it is, but that we were able to produce some water out of.
MAJ HONEC: Was it near Tallil, the Tallil Air Base?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, south of Tallil.
MAJ HONEC: South.
COL ZIERDT: Probably about 50 miles south of it.
MAJ HONEC: Fifty miles, okay.
COL ZIERDT: But other than that, we weren't really very successful. So, what we did was move the water in "Smifty" bags from Log Base CHARLIE to Log Base ROMEO and filled up there and, then, delivered it forward from there. So we basically didn't produce water in Iraq.
MAJ HONEC: I note the key water sources. You had wells at Log Base CHARLIE?
COL ZIERDT: Right.
MAJ HONEC: Rafha? You had wells, or had a processing plant there, which you used.
COL ZIERDT: There was a commercial water source there, yeah.
MAJ HONEC: Any others? What about KKMC? You get any water from ... ?
COL ZIERDT: KKMC ... we didn't ... basically we were able to get everything we needed at Log Base CHARLIE and Rafha, between those two. The 3d ACR and the 24th, who were on our right flank, may have gotten some out of Log Base ECHO (I think it was) near the Hafar al Batin.
MAJ HONEC: Hafar al Batin.
COL ZIERDT: They may have gotten some water over there themselves. I'm not sure about that. But we produced all the water that we needed; we supported everybody out of CHARLIE.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Well, let's go through Class I.
COL ZIERDT: We had intended to set up FLSs up near Log Base ROMEO.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: Mainly to do the medical evacuation.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Didn't need it. The supplies we could move up there without a problem. But we had anticipated a Medivac problem that we had so few Hueys [UH-1Vs and UH-1Hs] and [UH-60] Blackhawks and legs were just so darn long, that we didn't want to have to fly from, fly that last 100 or 150 miles.
So we had anticipated just keeping our choppers operating up forward and then using C-130s--first [CH-47D] Chinooks, and then C-130s, to bring people back because we had five evac hospitals along Tapline Road, and that's how we wanted to move it back. We could have picked them up at Log Base ROMEO on a road and then flown them down to the FLS and offloaded and moved them to the hospitals there.
MAJ HONEC: So that's a ... that was an ... as it turned out, what was the method of back haul for the casualties in Iraq, backward? What was the mostly?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we had so few that we flew most of them back in Hueys.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: We probably sent some back by ambulance. But there were just so few, it wasn't a problem.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. I observed bladder birds at one point toward, right before the beginning of the ground war.
COL ZIERDT: Yes.
MAJ HONEC: They tried an experiment, they said, with bladder birds.
COL ZIERDT: Well, we sent--when we were landing the C-130s at the FLS ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: ... one day we landed 20 bladder birds and we had every one of our companies, every one of our fuel companies, tanker companies, came in and offloaded the bladder birds and then just filled up the tactical petroleum terminal there. And we were doing that as a practice, not because we needed it at Log Base CHARLIE, but because we were worried we would get up to Iraq. We would get up to Tallil Airfield or Jalibah Airfield and then need to offload fuel up there to support one of the divisions. So we wanted to ensure that ... every time I've tried to do a bladder operation in the States, you had the wrong nozzles or they don't fit together or the Air Force thinks you're going to have this or you think they are going to have that, and it just doesn't work, so we wanted to practice it and make sure we could operate together.
MAJ HONEC: And it was successful, sir?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yeah, it was very successful, and we just didn't need to do it up in Iraq.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Any other ... no support from coalition forces at all?
COL ZIERDT: No, none from them. And then we supplied the French with fuel and ... basically with just fuel and water. They needed fuel and water from us, but they had their own ammunition and they had their--they didn't want our MREs. They had their French MREs, which were better.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. That's true. Okay. How about going through the supporting ... you had air defense artillery. You had two HAWK battalions there and a couple of ... a Patriot. Was that enough air defense, do you think?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yeah. They didn't know where we were.
MAJ HONEC: The Iraqis did not?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah. We needed the air defense. We were worried more about, not about the SCUD missiles, we were worried about FROG missiles because we were definitely in FROG missile range where we were.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Because we were in such a critical area we needed that. But we had dispersed our supplies and dispersed just about everything, so I felt we had more than adequate air defense coverage, especially since it was more of a missile threat we were worried about. I mean, I was worried early on ... I had expected when the air war started, I expected the planes to come down and us to get strafed and have other problems, but, you know, we never saw them do that.
MAJ HONEC: And you had enough engineer support for the ... ?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, the engineer support ... we did not get good engineer support back in [Area of Operations] PULASKI.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: When we set up our whole defensive operation, our main base camp was at a place called PULASKI, which was all the way in the south. You know, we had just lousy engineer support there. But the reason was because we weren't asking for it.
MAJ HONEC: Wow!
COL ZIERDT: I had a reserve support group commander who wasn't aggressive enough and didn't know what he ought to request. And I was busy worrying about ASPs and some other things and really didn't concentrate on that area as well as I should. But once we laid out for the engineers what we needed in Log Base CHARLIE, they came in there and just did a tremendous job, laid out all our berms and did it in record time, put in roads where we needed them and set up our ASP for us, just had great engineer support. And likewise when we went north, we were going to set up Log Base OSCAR and ROMEO and we had plans for them to do similar stuff there. They were the first people up there and had plans. Now, this went so fast we immediately cancelled Log Base OSCAR and never even started to do that one, which was near As Salman ... but we only set up ROMEO. But they came in there and also gave us great support there, which just showed me and showed our people that, you know, the engineers will give us whatever support we need, but we have got to articulate what we need.
MAJ HONEC: I see, okay. Other than that, the two ... the AVIM [Aviation Intermediate Maintenance] over there that we set up ... the maintenance ... ?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah. There are so many things one should go into when you're discussing this. One thing I never did mention early on is when we established all our forward support groups ...
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: We set them up in multi-functional configurations, which means a battalion headquarters has a maintenance company and a supply company and a field service and an ammo company, and a lot of logistical stuff under it. But ... and we did that in all the forwards, with the 46th and the 171st and the 101st. But then in the rear support group we had functional battalions. We had a pure water battalion and an ammo battalion, an AVIM battalion and a transportation battalion and a general supply battalion and a POL battalion.
Anyway, the AVIM battalion was one of those and we had just, rather than fritter all of the AVIM assets all out, we had a battalion commander, an AVIM battalion commander, and chose to put everything under him; and that worked extremely well.
MAJ HONEC: Good.
COL ZIERDT: And that worked well. In fact, LTG Luck every day from September all the way through February reviewed aviation statistics every day. When someone would outblow 75 percent of a particular aircraft, he told them to stand down and pull maintenance. That helped us get aviation rates higher than they have ever been in history. That and the fact that COL Bobby Siegel, who commanded the [18th] Aviation Brigade, also every week chaired a ... brought in all of the aviation brigade commanders and went through a logistics review all morning (every Tuesday morning, I believe). And that was a big help. But the AVIM, having one person in charge of that and being able to cross level between two or three different AVIM companies, you know, worked extremely well.
MAJ HONEC: Do you think that that is a prime consideration for future operations to have that sort of configuration, or is it just situational?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yes. The Army has been working on this multifunctional logistics thing for a number of years and it has now just been approved by the Department of the Army.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, okay.
COL ZIERDT: And it is because of this operation now.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: For a few years the Log[istics] Center [at Fort Lee, Virginia] got a little carried away and wanted to go multifunctional throughout the whole logistics system. And, you know, I don't ... not many people believe that will work. In this rear support group that we have, you need functional battalions. We needed them in Saudi. You know, Saudi was the greatest test in the world of this concept, and it worked. And it worked well. So, I think now this has helped prove to us what we need for doctrine. And the 2d COSCOM [in VII Corps] is set up, you know, very similar to the way we do.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. The general handling equipment.
COL ZIERDT: Yes?
MAJ HONEC: How did it play a key role in the ... ? Obviously you had to consolidate your assets.
COL ZIERDT: Well, because we had learned early on about these shortages I talked about of that nature.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: We had to come up with some innovative things ... that we knew that our ammo was already loaded on trailers on back in the rear. We weren't going to set up the ASPs forward for two or three days. So we took with each one of the hospitals that went forward, we took two or three forklifts. And the plan was they would help the hospital set up at two or three days, and then when they finished they would just move down the road, which was only a few miles to the ASP site. So, we were then able to solve the medical units problems of getting the forklifts they needed to set up, and then get them over where they needed. So we were able to move them around.
MAJ HONEC: Good point.
COL ZIERDT: But we didn't have a problem with forklifts in the offensive because, again, the amount of supplies we moved up forward were very minuscule compared to everything else that we had done.
MAJ HONEC: That's true. Good point, sir, yes. Any other ... perhaps we haven't thought about ... in the offensive phase before you go into the retrograde issues? Oh, I know. One of the key issues: the mail. I have asked every commander what he thought about the mail system and its function over there. Would you like to mention something about it?
COL ZIERDT: Well, the mail system was broken a little bit all over the place. Number one, the mail companies never had, don't even have a forklift authorized, yet they are handling tons and tons and tons of mail, so that unit needs forklifts just as much as anyone else. The mail system was broken in the way they moved it from the States over to Saudi. Mail would get offloaded in England or other countries and put in a warehouse. There were a lot of problems there. Mail didn't enjoy a very high priority in the JCS system, and so that caused some problems. Mail worked fairly well, though, in comparison from August through about January, the mail system worked fairly well. But after January it really fell apart. Part of the problem was that COL [Gary] Gresh, the [18th] Personnel Group commander, was just too understanding. He knew I had to take all the truck assets and was busy moving the Corps, so when he had mail piling up he just, you know, didn't let me know. Had I known, yeah, you can always make five or ten trucks available and maybe you're using your flatbeds and your 5-tons, but you always have extra deuce and a halfs [2.5-ton trucks] or other things.
So, had I been more aware of how much mail he had building up I could have helped him out more. But because he doesn't work for me, you know, I just didn't know that was a problem. When I found out it was a problem around the 5th or 10th of February, we then switched an awful lot ... an awful lot of mail transportation to him to help him move that.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But we had, the personnel group, in my view, ought to be under the COSCOM and the finance group ought to be under the COSCOM. And if it was, we can incorporate the logistic system an awful lot better. The fact that the personnel group headquarters was left at KKMC, not because COL Gresh wanted to keep it there because BG Scholes told him to, that meant SUPCOM or PERSCOM [the ARCENT personnel command] only had to deliver replacements to KKMC. I, then, had the problem, or we had the problem in the corps, then, to move them from KKMC to Log Base CHARLIE to wherever they were going. Whereas if we had put the personnel group at Log Base CHARLIE, the PERSCOM would have had to deliver them to us and then we could have distributed it to the corps. So keeping them back at KKMC, and BG Scholes did that for some ...
MAJ HONEC: What was going through his mind?
COL ZIERDT: ... he did it for some good reasons, to maintain close relationships with the people making the decisions and everything back there. But he caused me a horrendous transportation problem, moving the people and the mail and everything else. If we had had them at Log Base CHARLIE it could have worked better.
But the mail system was definitely broken and, you know, needs to be analyzed in a lot of detail and straightened out before we do anything again.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. All right, we should take a break.
COL ZIERDT: Let's take a break, yeah.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. This is the second tape of the interview with COL(P) Zierdt, 1st COSCOM commander; Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Today's date is the 10th of June 1991.
Okay. Sir, going on to retrograde operations, could you just talk about some of the command issues you faced moving the Corps back, moving yourself back to Dhahran and then DEROS over to CONUS [redeploy to the Continental United States]?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we had several issues there. Once we were deployed up into Iraq, we had to be careful on how we redeployed out of there. We wanted to make it a tactical retrograde as opposed to a admin move back to Dhahran. So we ... initially we had planned to leave the 3d ACR the last to conduct the screen on the northern flank and leave the French on the western flank, and then move the 82d and 101st and the 24th back, you know, sort of in that order. That was the Corps plan. But then unfortunately we got a little bit of help from CENTCOM headquarters.
MAJ HONEC: How did that affect it, sir?
COL ZIERDT: Someone decided to send the 3d ACR first and then the 24th and then the 82d; so, we were getting direction of who to send when, so we had to adjust our plan. We sent the 24th--I mean the 3d ACR--down to [Al] Jubayl. Moved them all the way or they moved on their own all the way from the Euphrates River Valley back across the border. Once they got back across the border, then we set up again a transportation control center and we did an even better job than we had done on the move forward for offensive.
We really set up, LTC Fred Perkins and 7th Trans[portation] Battalion set up just a picture-perfect area that we were going to talk to the Transportation School and get written into the doctrine. But ... they consolidated all the HET companies and transportation companies. And we moved the whole 3d ACR in about one or two days, we were able to move them out of the ... from their tactical assembly area all the way back to Jubayl, which was a remarkable feat.
MAJ HONEC: It sure was, yes, sir.
COL ZIERDT: Then we quickly went into moving the 24th Infantry Division and moved them in record time. I think we also early on in there moved one of the corps artillery brigades, the 18th Field Artillery Brigade. We were able to move them back early. But we were sort of ... we were stuck up there in our defensive positions in Iraq now. We were well past the cease fire date, and they wanted to maintain a presence up there. And we were sort of being told, "Okay, you can move this brigade out and that brigade." And we were being told a day at a time who could move out, so there were some political considerations and other things there.
We eventually moved the combat units back out of Iraq into Saudi Arabia and then set up an administrative move to move them back to Dhahran. So, we did all of that, I guess it commenced around 4 or 5 March; I'm just guessing on the date. But really by the end of March we had completed just about every one of the combat units and had them all out of there. And by ... probably by 15 April we had completely emptied the whole AO [Area of Operations] up there; we had moved them.
This, again, involved an awful lot of work. The fortunate thing was VII Corps was still sitting up in Iraq and was not moving. And so all the transportation assets in the whole SUPCOM were able to be devoted to us. And we were moving sometimes 200 trailer loads of ammunition a day out of our ASP that by this time had 40,000 short tons in it. So we were able to move those down to KKMC and just keep moving just about as much as we wanted to.
We also had some stops and starts on getting empty containers, 40-foot containers, up there ... and customs and agricultural inspectors so we could start doing the customs and the ag inspection. We wanted to be able to fill up a container right at Log Base CHARLIE, seal it, and then ship it all the way back to the states. And again, no one had expected a hundred hour war, so we weren't ready on having trained agricultural and customs inspectors. And so there were a lot of false starts for a few days until we got that system set up. But eventually we got everything moved out. MG Pagonis gave us permission ...
[END OF TAPE ONE]
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You left off with MG Pagonis allowed you to sit back ... ?
COL ZIERDT: So we filled up probably in Log Base CHARLIE alone probably about 300 containers. Sixty or seventy of them were just Class IV supplies, 4-by-4s and wood and plywood and that type thing.
MAJ HONEC: You had a lot of storage area here?
COL ZIERDT: Well, that's going to be a problem.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. You can address that later.
COL ZIERDT: The MEDSOM's packed up 50 or 60 containers of medical supplies that we will get into a hospital system back here. These are things that if we had put in storage or left them over there, they would have just really deteriorated. So, hopefully, we have brought that stuff back to be able to use it and we will issue it to the Womack Hospital and other hospitals here.
MAJ HONEC: Maintenance-wise ... these engines, aircraft and vehicle engines?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yes, all that major, we call them secondary end items or major assemblies, we sent all of those back here because we need them back here. Mostly that's where a lot of them started, they came from here, you know, went over there. When we left Fort Bragg to deploy over there, we took everything we had.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, I see.
COL ZIERDT: So, if we had come back without any of those engines and transmissions and transfers, then we would really be in problems at Fort Bragg. But we brought back probably more than we took over, and so we will come back in fairly good shape. And the stuff is certainly not needed in Saudi Arabia. After a while if you have X number of engines here and there are supply regulations that after six months or a year if you don't use them you have to turn them in, so they will get back ...
MAJ HONEC: Right, so they get into you on the system.
COL ZIERDT: They won't stay here as excess; if they are really excess, they will get back into the army system. But we, you know, we eventually moved everyone back, moved the combat units first and then lastly the COSCOM back to Dhahran and then started setting up wash racks and cleaning areas. Again, they followed the REFORGER model on how to set up all the wash rack areas and the cleaning areas and started cleaning equipment and had to schedule it to get the right units in there.
Basically we tried to send the units back home in the order they came over in. If we would send the 3d ACR, for example, we sent the COSCOM battalion that supported them when we sent the ... when we sent the 101st Airborne Division home, the 101st Support Group followed them; and when the 82d went, the 46th followed them. So, basically we interwove the COSCOM units with the units they supported and sent them on back to the CONUS.
Each division ran their own port support activity to load their own ships in their division, so that was a division concern. They put the ADC(S) [Assistant Division Commander, Support] in charge of doing all of that and left about 700 or 800 people back to load out a division. Then COSCOM was given the job to load out all the non-divisional forces, which ends up being more than all the divisions put together. Where a typical division will have 10 to 15 ships' worth of stuff, the COSCOM alone had 27 ships for just COSCOM. When you start adding all the engineer brigade people and everybody else, there is quite a lot of other equipment besides the divisions. But it was decided rather than have the engineer brigade run their own and the signal brigade, that we would just consolidate it and put COSCOM in charge and move all the non-divisional forces in the corps, you know, out with us in charge.
I was very fortunate in COL Pete [Peter W.] Lichtenberger [who] came over to Saudi the first week of March to be my deputy commander. Pete had commanded his battalion here, had deployed his battalion to Honduras and back, to OCEAN VENTURE (to Puerto Rico and back), so he probably knows more than anybody I can think of in the Army about how to load ships and deploy overseas and back. We had left him in Saudi. He is still over there today. He is due to come back on the 13th [13 June 1991]. So, in three days he will be on his way back and the whole Corps will be finished. He stayed over there as the COSCOM Forward commander and the acting corps commander in Saudi Arabia until everything was loaded out.
MAJ HONEC: I see. This enormous effort undoubtedly had to take a lot of communications backup to command and control those sorts of things. Would you assess the communications performance? Actually go through ... we didn't ever talk that much about the availability of communications at the defensive, offensive, and now the retrograde operations. Again, give me a thumbnail of what issues ... ?
COL ZIERDT: Communications was the biggest problem in the COSCOM in the whole eight-month operation.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: I mean, because we just didn't have what we need. And the doctrine sort of tells you that each division in the Army needs a signal battalion to help the division communicate. But then the same doctrine says you need a signal company in the corps signal brigade to take care of the COSCOM. Well, the COSCOM has got 22,000 people in it. They have got more than any of the divisions. They are also spread out over the whole corps area, so they really need at least a signal battalion.
So we just had continual signal problems the whole time we were over there. This caused problems for the whole corps that the repair parts company does not have a telephone. And so everybody in the Corps that needs to go see if you have some engines or transmissions or you have parts, you have to drive over there and visit, because there is no phone in there. Or the MEDSOM, if you want to find out what medical supplies, and you're in one of the units and your medics have to find out about it, they've got to get in a vehicle and drive all the way there.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: You know, if you're really at a critical places--not every one of my companies need a phone. Generally, internally it didn't cause a problem in that I would have one of these multifunctional battalions. They would all be located within a perimeter so they could run wire or FM radio; talk amongst themselves. But the customers, you know ... and then usually in a battalion we could get one or two telephones, and that was about it. And those would just stay constantly busy because our Materiel Management Center has to talk to the battalion and the battalion needs to talk to them. All the customers in the local area need to call in. Generally the phones were just so tied up and so busy that people had to drive an awful lot. So, that shortage of communications, I feel, really hurts the entire corps. When a COSCOM doesn't have the communications, it hurts the whole corps, not just me internally.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: Now I'm raising that issue, and we're working on that with the Signal School and with CASCOM.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah, good, I'm glad you mentioned that. The troops and the morale issues. What sort of ... I understand that the COSCOM got in a bank of 40 telephones at Log Base CHARLIE so that they could call home toward the end of the ... right at the early ... I mean, yeah, late March or early in April there ... for this communications, running along this communications subject. Prior to that, how did they get access to, besides the mail, how did they get access to the folks back home? Did they take busses downtown?
COL ZIERDT: Well, they would, when we were back in the KKMC area there--I mean in the Dhahran area--there were some phones back there.
MAJ HONEC: There were?
COL ZIERDT: But again, generally when phone banks start coming in everybody will give one to the divisions.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: A lot of times our people are up in the division area so they can use the phone. Although, some divisions would decide these are for the division, period, and wouldn't let our units or signal or our engineers or other corps units use them; so that that caused problems, you know, morale problems.
MAJ HONEC: Some of the ...
COL ZIERDT: But, you know, now that you mentioned morale, I would say that morale of the whole COSCOM and all the support units, whether they were DISCOM's or COSCOM's or what have you, the morale was higher than anybody in Saudi Arabia because these soldiers were all doing their mission. I mean, the soldiers that came to fight, they only fought a hundred hours and they had to train all the other times.
But, I mean, my truck drivers were just constantly on the road. The supply people were just working their tails off. The harder people worked, the happier ... and when they know they are doing something and it's for a great cause, like this was. I mean, their morale was just higher than it ever has been and they all feel tremendous about themselves today because they know that this was a logistic exercise more than anything.
MAJ HONEC: The motto, "Think War," was that just for Saudi or was that a ... ?
COL ZIERDT: [BG] John Cusick, my predecessor, started that motto, and that is all we've been doing is fighting ever since.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But the motto was really that every day we should be thinking what will we do to prepare for war. If my truck is, if I'm a sergeant and my truck is deadlined and I get called to go on 18 hours notice to some unknown place tomorrow, how am I going to do that? So, in every thing we do around here we want to think war and think preparedness for war.
MAJ HONEC: I see.
COL ZIERDT: But after Panama and DESERT SHIELD, I think we are all tired of thinking war. I think we will have to think readiness or something for a while. [LAUGHTER]
MAJ HONEC: Yes, sir. The Third Nation, the host [nation] support, how much of it did you rely upon to get the vehicles clean, get the wash racks and what not?
COL ZIERDT: Very little. I mean, the SUPCOM hired a whole bunch of wash racks around town that different people used. My people didn't use those all that much.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: and ... but basically they set up these wash points and had a 100, 150 wash points at high pressure washers and eventually steam cleaners. The first units, the 3d ACR and the 24th, just had a hell of a time because the equipment wasn't right and they didn't have what they needed. So as they tried to wash vehicles, they really had problems.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: But the later you stayed, the more the equipment became available. By the time the COSCOM mostly went through there, it was, you know, fairly simple to wash most of this equipment and take care of it. Then again we were the last to leave, but we were busy at Log Base CHARLIE loading up everything and being the last to move out of up there, and so then by the time we got down people just quickly started packing things and putting things together. We had so much supplies--ASL, shop stock, and bench stock--it all had to be inspected and cleaned and packed and everything, so our soldiers were busy up until the very end cleaning all of this stuff.
MAJ HONEC: Log Base CHARLIE was pretty unique. It was pretty busy toward the beginning of the ground war, and then all of a sudden it started to shrink as you moved units out. Thinking back on that operation, the enormity of it, do you think that the Army will ever have to have another Log Base CHARLIE or will it be smaller?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, sure, whenever you set up a huge corps operation like this was, I mean, you're going to have to have a logistic base out of there to operate. Actually, and LTG Luck told me this and I agree with him, that the Corps ran much better up on Tapline Road than we did back in Dhahran because Log Base CHARLIE was all there, all central, everybody knew exactly where everything was, rather than being spread out in the city and in PULASKI and spread out the way we were down in Dhahran. We were just much more efficient running out of that logistics base than we had ever been before.
MAJ HONEC: A key point. As you left ... when you went over, how much were you allowed to take baggage-wise when you left for Saudi Arabia, yourself personally?
COL ZIERDT: Well, I filled my HMMWV up.
MAJ HONEC: Yeah, okay. And then coming back? The same?
COL ZIERDT: I did the same thing.
MAJ HONEC: The same thing, okay.
COL ZIERDT: I mean, soldiers had problems in that they kept going back and forth on how we could ship bags, and so we had problems trying to ship soldiers' individual bags back inside containers or inside other vehicles. But that was a problem that got raised and got solved and everybody got their stuff back.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Is there perhaps a lesson learned in that, in the amount of ... ?
COL ZIERDT: Well, every time we deploy ... when we deployed to St. Croix for Hurricane Hugo, I mean, we deployed the soldiers. The soldiers have their backpack and a small amount of equipment with them. We didn't let them take their B-bags or their duffel bags. Then we sent everybody into St. Croix. And then within a week or ten days or two weeks, you've got a problem and all of a soldier's stuff is dirty, you don't have your laundries there yet and people don't have the equipment to take care of themselves so you have to go out and buy new underwear. Or you have to go do something to solve sanitation and people's problems. And the B-bags always just get shoved in the back and they get a low priority and they never get sent over. So, we had that problem there when we jumped into Panama and did the things in Panama, the B-bags got left back here and after two or three weeks down there, you have the same problem. And then as we deployed to Saudi Arabia, again the B-bags always get shoved back in the rear.
So, I don't think we're ever going to solve the problem. When you get out on a short exercise, you don't need that B-bag, but when you go on a real exercise, you really do. But there is such a priority in getting, you know, guns on the ground and getting combat fighters and getting support and everything that I don't see that ever getting solved. The B-bags are always going to get pushed back. When it becomes a big enough problem, then we call back to rear and we get them pushed forward and sent.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. All right, any other retrograde operations, any other thoughts about retrograde problems?
COL ZIERDT: The biggest problem in retrograde has been the agricultural inspections more than anything. And you have that anytime you try to come out of a foreign country back into here so it is the ...
MAJ HONEC: Were they consistent, everyone?
COL ZIERDT: Well, no, I mean, that's a problem. I mean, we're trying to get them consistent. I mean, we've been through a lot of agricultural inspections as we have gone down to Panama and Honduras and Puerto Rico. And coming back from there was fairly simple. But when we came back from Saudi Arabia, we had very tough agricultural requirements. It is because it was the European inspectors inspecting, and it was a different standard than we had down here. The European standard of what they allow back has always been higher. One of my battalion commanders who has been to Honduras and Panama and has also been on the REFORGER just told his guys, "Hey, it's the REFORGER standards, guys." And once everybody knew that, then they knew what to look for.
MAJ HONEC: I see. Good point. When you got back the 30-day block leave, you had people take their 30 days?
COL ZIERDT: Yes, I directed every one as they came back to take 30 days block leave because generally they had sent their equipment and their equipment wasn't going to be here for 30 days and so most of the COSCOM soldiers cannot do much of their mission without their equipment.
We had been over there eight months. And in eight months the normal guy accumulates what, 24 days' leave, so they definitely had 30. Most of them had 30 days' leave to use. So, I directed everybody to take 30 days leave because I didn't want individual section chiefs and other people deciding that they needed to do work or something else.
MAJ HONEC: Your equipment is still on ships, or is off?
COL ZIERDT: Oh, yeah, it will be coming in for many months.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: I mean, the main equipment will be here probably in another month or two. But we sent all these containers and the containers going to the ... not a dedicated ship but they just go into just the U.S. container system.
MAJ HONEC: Which is a space available system?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah. And they may be dropped off in Los Angeles and put on a SeaLand van truck and then driven here or something. So, containers will arrive continuously for probably four or five or six months.
MAJ HONEC: I see. How is that going to impact the COSCOM's operations?
COL ZIERDT: Well, we're trying to get ready for the next war and we're trying to get our assault support package reconstituted and ready to go, and that type stuff.
MAJ HONEC: Yes.
COL ZIERDT: So, we are on a weekly basis now trying to analyze where we stand in getting things together and getting ready for the next contingency because we have to get the whole contingency corps back on its 18-hour notice footing. We hope to do that by next month.
MAJ HONEC: I see. Did you have any other, perhaps, thoughts now about retrograde before we go on to these last two questions. Family Support Group: assess how that worked for your COSCOM during this entire operation?
COL ZIERDT: Well, it worked well because I had a super rear detachment commander who did a great job of keeping things going. But I'd just tell you we just lay an awful lot of responsibility on our wives, and the wives just had a tough time running this. Because, you know, if I have a problem, I can go tell my group commanders, "You will do this," and battalion commanders, "You will do that." And I write efficiency reports and I have command authority and ultimate responsibility for those people. The wives don't have any such thing. And so the leadership challenge of trying to get the wives of the brigade commanders and the battalion commanders and the company commanders, trying to get them to do what needs to be done is a difficult leadership challenge.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
COL ZIERDT: And I think we, the Army, have laid too much responsibility on the wives and what they should do. It works great, and always has, for these two- and three-week deployments and exercises we do. But for eight months? You know, it is tough. But the wives around here rose to the challenge and accomplished the mission and did a great job. They were back in January, as we were getting ready to go to war, they were having survivor assistance classes and learning on how they were going to go out and do notification. I mean, they went through an awful lot of training themselves, you know, every one of the wives in the leadership positions around here. And they are an awful lot better off for it. But I think we need to re-look at the whole family support group concept and maybe getting the military a little bit more involved to help people out. Because a lot of times they won't leave anybody in rear detachments.
I know of examples of that in other divisions, where the division commander wouldn't let anybody stay back in rear detachments. And that really laid even more responsibility on the wives than we did around here.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Another thing is the assessment of the female soldier.
COL ZIERDT: The female soldiers did fabulous.
MAJ HONEC: Good.
COL ZIERDT: I have had them all in the auditorium and told them that, that they need to be proud. The COSCOM commanders never doubted that the females were essential and critical to our tasks and we couldn't do without them. But I think our combat arms' people and maybe even the American people just doubted whether the females could rise to the task ... and I think they showed it in this war. You know we had one of our females captured. We had several that were killed. And we had all of them out there just doing their mission day in and day out in some very rough and dirty situations and living in log bases for months at a time. So, they did as well as anybody.
MAJ HONEC: You brought up the issue about the capture. What caused her to ... the truck, the HEMTT [heavy expanded-mobility tactical truck] to take a wrong turn and end up in ... near Iraq, to get captured?
COL ZIERDT: It's the driver head space. The driver had been on a particular route two or three times and thought he knew where he was going. Then instead of turning left, he kept going straight. They even saw the water on their right, which was a dead giveaway that they were going north rather than west. There were two HETs following each other. The guy, the one that was eventually captured, was in the lead vehicle, and stopped. And the guys behind him said, "You're going the wrong way and we need to turn around." He said, "I am not." He says, "I'm going straight. You can follow me or turn around if you want."
So, they kept going straight. The next thing you knew they were in the middle of a fire fight. The second vehicle got turned around in time [and] got out of there; the second vehicle got stuck and didn't get turned around, and the two of them got captured. But by the time the second vehicle brought some marines up to help out, and by then they were captured.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Now, moving on to the last two questions ... the subject areas. We talked about particular subject areas you want CMH [Center of Military History] and Center for Army Lessons Learned to perhaps write about, so that you could make it required reading for your subordinate ... key NCOs and officers. Have you a comment on your thoughts about that sort of thing?
COL ZIERDT: I think we need to get into detail on each commodity of supply or each class of supply.
MAJ HONEC: All right.
COL ZIERDT: We need to write Class III operations. And there is just so much to discuss on how we use tactical petroleum terminals and how we put in a pipeline and laid it across the country. We didn't do that, the SUPCOM did. But how we use the Samarac tankers and how we had a problem between diesel and JP.
MAJ HONEC: Water?
COL ZIERDT: And how we set up, refuel on the move or ROM points all over. I mean, there is just so much to discuss that a petroleum officer really needs to know, that you've got to sit down and get something written up on that process of supply. So, I think we need to go through each of the classes of supply. And then do some ... and that way if you put all of the quartermaster-type subjects together, then a quartermaster officer can sit down and go through it all in some detail. Likewise, for the ordnance guys, you know, go through ammunition and then go through Class IX and go through Class VII and put all of that together. Then for transportation we need to put maybe a sea and an air and a ground section together. Because air has one problem with CRAF call up and everything. And, you know, sea was something else, with bringing in the merchant fleet. And the ground was something we've never done before. So, you need to break them down into pieces and go through ... go through that type of analysis.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. What particular medical areas you call to mind?
COL ZIERDT: Well, the medical areas, we just need to look at the hospitals and how we organize them. We found out that they were just too big and too cumbersome and required too much transportation. So we found ways to lighten them. We think we have found ways to lighten them. We think we have designed something that the Surgeon General can use for MedForce 2000 to really lighten up the hospital so that you get the surgery forward, but not all the fancy beds and all the clinical care but the surgery, which is really what you need forward. So, we've found ways to do that, and we think some analysis needs to be done with that.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Anything on question five about the two volumes ... it would cover all the classes of supplies? I understand you talking about them. So, really question five about the logistics for DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM ... now, just go ahead and start with a class, all the way up to nine, and discuss key issues in there?
COL ZIERDT: I think so, yeah.
MAJ HONEC: Pretty much?
COL ZIERDT: Yeah. Then, and like I say, the classes of supply, which you break down into branches really, and then you get into the transportation like I mentioned. The medical there is ... I mean, you could discuss the medical logistics and the resupply and the hospital organization and some of that type of stuff. But I think you will find that when I have talked to ... to CALL [Center for Army Lessons Learned] people ... and medically, we ran our medical operations totally different in XVIII Airborne Corps than VII Corps did, so you just need your analysis of one versus the other.
MAJ HONEC: I'm glad you pointed that out.
COL ZIERDT: I think you will find, you know, that we did ours by really keeping things as far forward as possible. Because this is the way the XVIII Airborne Corps thinks ... and it worked very well.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Any others?
COL ZIERDT: Thank you very much.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Thank you, sir.
COL ZIERDT: Have a good afternoon.
[END OF INTERVIEW]