Contracting has become an important force multiplier
in current military operations. During Operation Iraqi Freedom,
for example, Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) and the Iraqi
Transportation Company (ITC) provided essential transportation
augmentation for the 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
(CSSB) of the 15th Sustainment Brigade. Since there were not
enough military transportation assets on the battlefield,
these contracts helped the CSSB fulfill its transportation
requirements. Both groups of contractors formed strong working
relationships with the 541st CSSB by focusing on constant
When the CSSB planned combat logistics patrols (CLPs), both
KBR and ITC procedures had to be considered. Conducted twice
daily, truckmaster meetings brought together unit truckmasters
and transportation personnel from the CSSB’s support
operations office (SPO) to discuss the mission requirements
for the next 24 to 96 hours. Here, trucks were assigned to
specific missions and any issues with common-user land transport
assets were addressed.
Kellogg, Brown, and Root
Iraq for quite some time, so the CSSB felt comfortable working with them. KBR’s
assets included seven 8,000-gallon fuel tankers and 50 tractor-trailers. This
augmentation was equivalent to about one squad of fuelers and almost one light-medium
truck company. KBR provided a liaison officer who met with the SPO transportation
section once a week and ensured that KBR was meeting the mission intent. KBR
also provided a senior operations coordinator who performed the same job as a
truckmaster in a military transportation company.
The senior operations coordinator for KBR played an important role in planning
and resourcing CLPs that involved KBR assets. He attended all truckmaster meetings
and coordinated closely with the SPO transportation section. Once all missions
were sourced and all loads were planned, the senior mission coordinator assigned
the loads to KBR drivers. If there were any issues, the senior operations coordinator
came back to the transportation section to work them out. All KBR personnel who
drove in the CLPs attended the convoy commander’s CLP brief to ensure that
the tactics, techniques, procedures, and battle drills were known throughout
Iraqi Transportation Company
The ITC had been doing transportation missions in Iraq for a while, as well.
The ITC’s assets included seven 8,000-gallon fuel tankers and 42 tractor-trailers.
Like KBR’s augmentation, this was equivalent to about one squad of fuelers
and almost one light-medium truck company. The ITC had a manager who worked directly
with the platoon leader assigned to the ITC mission.
The ITC was made up of local nationals from all over Iraq, so working with them
was slightly different than working with the Americans of KBR. Because of the
threat of attack by insurgents, the ITC drivers met in locations that regularly
changed and then came through the gates together. During the convoys, one U.S.
Army noncommissioned officer always accompanied the ITC trucks and served as
a loadmaster to ensure that the load was properly secured and that all paperwork
was in order. As a security precaution, the ITC drivers did not attend the CLP
briefs like KBR drivers did; instead, the ITC got a convoy brief from the convoy
commander at the ITC motor pool before leaving the forward operating base (FOB).
There were some challenges to having the ITC involved in the CLPs. For example,
there had to be at least one Arabic language interpreter on every CLP. Another
problem was that the ITC trucks were the only vehicles that were not up-armored.
All of the other vehicles that left the FOB, including KBR vehicles, had been
up-armored. The Iraqi manager of the ITC regularly came to meet with our battalion
to address these types of concerns in an open forum. This relationship kept the
operation running smoothly and made the mission happen.
Contracted transportation assets were force multipliers, but a great deal of
planning had to accompany the augmentation. Whether dealing with the ITC or KBR,
communication was the key to meeting mission requirements and priorities of movement
for all classes of supply. Communication built working relationships and made
working together easier to accomplish.
Captain George Plys is the Transportation Officer for the 541st Combat Sustainment
Support Battalion of the 15th Sustainment Brigade. He has a bachelor’s
degree in criminal justice from Washington State University, and he is a graduate
of the Transportation Officer Basic Course and the Combined Logistics Captains