Logisticians on the battlefields of Iraq and
Afghanistan must operate using unprecedented and uncharted
tactics, techniques, and procedures. They can no longer rely
on nonorganic force protection or other emergency response
assets when they operate “outside the wire” on
austere main supply routes (MSRs). Logistics units, specifically
transportation units, must be able to master actions on the
objective, force projection, and critical emergency response
skills. Effective combat logistics patrols (CLPs) are not just
a concept; they have become a way of life for combat service
support units. CLP methodology provides the standard for fixing,
fueling, arming, moving, and sustaining the force. The multifunctional
warrior has evolved into one of the premier warriors on the
nonlinear and nonconventional battlefield.
The 756th Transportation Company (Petroleum, Oils, and Lubricants),
while stationed at Camp Taji, Iraq, in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom 05–07, successfully delivered millions
of gallons of class IIIB (bulk petroleum) and transported fuel
over 200,000 miles throughout the Multinational Division-Baghdad
sector. This was possible because of the skills the 756th developed
in theater that allowed the unit to transform organically to
react to opposing forces.
Specific additional equipment was needed to augment the unit’s
fleet of M1088 tractor trucks and M967 and M969 5,000-gallon
fuel tankers. This additional equipment included gun trucks,
fire-suppression systems, maintenance recovery vehicles and
wreckers, and Counter Remote Control Improvised Explosive Device
(IED) Electronic Warfare (CREW) systems. To augment the newly
acquired equipment, motor transport operators (military occupational
specialty 88M) became proficient in operating Single-Channel
Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) radios, Warlocks
(IED-jamming devices), Movement Tracking Systems (MTSs), Blue
Force Trackers (BFTs), and a number of weapon systems (M2 machinegun,
M240B machinegun, M16 rifle, and M4 carbine). The vehicle operators
also became proficient in vehicle-recovery operations, combat
lifesaver functions, and commodity operations.
The 756th reconfigured M1088 tractor trucks into gun truck platforms, complete
with a gunner’s protection kit. A dual-mounted gun shield offered protection
to the vehicle’s front by allowing the mounting of two automatic weapon
systems. All gun trucks were equipped with CREW systems and AN/VRC–92 dual
long-range SINCGARS. Gun truck personnel were trained and drilled on escalation-of-force
tactics, rules of engagement, and mitigating unnecessary collateral damage. Sirens,
loud speakers, Iraqi warning signs, and 1-million-watt spotlights were used to
warn incoming traffic of the danger of approaching a CLP.
The 756th gradually increased the proportion of CLP vehicles able to communicate
with each other from 15 percent to 100 percent. Because of the nonlinear opposing-force
tactics, every asset within the CLP had to be able to communicate to maintain
situational awareness. To achieve this, the company obtained an AN/VRC–90
single long-range SINCGARS for each of its transport vehicles.
prepare to leave the forward operating base on a
combat logistics patrol.
The company had two types of navigational systems: MTS and Force XXI Battle Command
Brigade and Below-BFT (FBCB2–BFT). The company tactical operations center
(TOC) had a matching base system. Vehicle operators became proficient on both
systems through extensive training and daily operations.
As the primary navigational system used, MTS was useful as both a communications
and a navigational tool. Using MTS to provide critical messaging, including group
notifications, route updates, and communication with battlespace owners, provided
the CLP an invaluable tool.
The motor transport operators chosen to become gunners had to be qualified on
multiple weapon systems, including their individual weapon (M4 carbine or M16
rifle), the M249 squad automatic weapon, the M240B 7.62-millimeter machinegun,
and the M2 .50-caliber machinegun. Weapon system skills were sustained by monthly
training at firing ranges and realistic “live fire” lanes. The ability
of turret gunners to perform escalation-of-force drills successfully—gradually
moving from the lowest caliber weapon to the most lethal systems—became
the difference between life and death on the MSRs.
CLPs encounter various fire risks, such as IEDs and possible vehicular accidents,
on an MSR. The
fire-suppression system can provide 500 gallons of mobile fire-suppression foam,
which pushes back flames from the cab so personnel can extract casualties and
equipment. A platform was developed for mounting the fire-suppression system
directly on an M1088 tractor truck. The crew of that M1088 received extensive
fire-suppression operation and first-responder medical training.
Recovery and Wrecker Operations
Preparing for an unexpected breakdown is critical to the success of a CLP because
being stationary on an MSR increases the risk of opposing-force engagement and
ties up critical supply routes. Maintenance and recovery personnel had 15 minutes
to fix a mechanical failure or tow the system. All of the 756th’s CLPs
were equipped with a wrecker vehicle, preferably the M984 heavy, expanded-mobility
tactical truck (HEMTT) wrecker, and an additional M1088 tractor truck for trailer
The danger of remote-controlled IEDs was mitigated by using CREW systems that
jammed IED receivers to prevent trigger signals from reaching their targets.
CREW systems were constantly being developed and upgraded to meet the latest
Qualified first responders are essential to Soldier survival. Advances in medical
transportation and trauma care can save lives only if wounded Soldiers are stabilized
within the first 5 to 10 minutes of injury. Every Soldier in the company received
combat lifesaver training. Every CLP vehicle was required to have one combat
lifesaver-qualified Soldier with a combat lifesaver bag. Gun truck personnel
received enhanced first-responder training developed by the 101st Airborne Division
(Air Assault). This training focused on critical trauma skills and the most common
injuries in theater.
The 3 Cs
The commander of the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 3d Corps Support Command, Colonel
Gustave Perna, developed the 3 Cs concept: confidence in yourself, confidence
in your equipment, and confidence in your leaders. While attached to the 4th
Sustainment Brigade for Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 756th always used this concept
as the foundation of its operations. The 3 Cs were the focal point of the company’s
constant evolution of equipment, leaders, and, most important, Soldiers.
This article offers only a brief picture of the true abilities that the 756th
Transportation Company developed with the assistance of the 189th Corps Support
Battalion (Airborne) and the 4th Sustainment Brigade. The 756th committed itself
to meticulous attention to detail and constant improvement, thereby creating
a CLP methodology. The 189th Corps Support Battalion commander used any means
necessary to resource the 756th’s dynamic formation and developed very
efficient CLP standing operating procedures. Today’s logistics Soldier
has evolved into a first-rate warfighter.
Major Julian H. Bond is an Active Guard/Reserve officer assigned to the 746th
Combat Service Support Battalion, California Army National Guard. He is the Commander
of the 756th Transportation Company (Petroleum, Oils, and Lubricants) (-) at
Lancaster, California, which was deployed to Iraq when he wrote this article.
He has a B.A. degree in business administration from Knox College and an M.S.
degree in health science emergency disaster management from Touro University.
He is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the
Petroleum Officer Course, the Support Operations Course, the Combined Arms and
Services Staff School, and the Army Command and General Staff College.