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Combat Logistics Patrol Methodology

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.

Gun Trucks

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.

Communication

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.

Navigation

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.

Weapon Systems

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.

Fire-Suppression System

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 recovery.

CREW Systems

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 threats.

Combat Lifesavers

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.
ALOG

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.