At the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the
receipt, issue, and tracking of supplies became one of the
biggest challenges for the Theater Distribution Center (TDC),
Logistics Support Area (LSA) Anaconda at Balad, Iraq, and
the supply support activities (SSAs) throughout the theater.
Problems in managing internal misships, external misships,
and serviceable excess at LSA Anaconda were breaking the ability
of the SSAs to support units. The solution was the development
and implementation of a hub-and-spoke system to provide more
timely receipt of parts and materials by units
and reduce losses caused by misshipments. Hub-and-spoke operations
at LSA Anaconda offer lessons for other LSAs and SSAs facing
problems caused by misshipments.
Internal misships” were those misshipments that were
destined for SSAs within LSA Anaconda. “External misships” were
those misshipments intended for SSAs located outside of LSA
Anaconda, such as those at the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment,
the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and the 101st Airborne
Division (Air Assault). “Serviceable excess” included
parts or materials that exceeded authorized stockage levels
and were returned to the corps distribution center (CDC) for
The hub-and-spoke system was designed to relieve SSAs at LSA
Anaconda of the need to transport internal misships by delivering
all materiel to the correct SSAs at LSA Anaconda within a 24-hour
period; to consolidate and transport external misships to
the CDC for onward movement to units throughout the Combined
Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF–7) area of operations; and
to transport serviceable excesses to the CDC.
Iraqi Freedom Supply Challenges
In early March 2003, LSA Anaconda was established to support
warfighters and conduct combat service support (CSS) operations.
However, the LSA did not receive the support it needed from
the TDC. The commander of the 7th Corps Support Group (CSG)
put together a Forward Assistance Support Team (FAST) comprising
SSA warrant officers and senior noncommissioned officers to
function as the CSG’s LSA liaison. The goal was to expedite
receipt of classes of supply for the six SSAs to be stood up
at LSA Anaconda.
The FAST identified CONEXs (containers express), MILVANs (military-owned
demountable containers), and classes of supply designated
for LSA Anaconda. The team monitored and established a 7th
CSG lane at the TDC, ensuring that the lane was not pilfered
for supplies and that logistics trains going to LSA Anaconda
received priority. The FAST stood up an air port of debarkation
lane to ensure the rapid forward movement of aircraft-on-ground
(AOG) parts to support combat and medical aviation units
at LSA Anaconda. The FAST was able to get supplies destined
for LSA Anaconda pushed forward and established “Red
Ball Express”-type logistics trains, where supplies
would be pushed directly to the LSA and distributed to the
Impact of Misshipments
Internal misships increased the man-hours of labor that had
to be devoted to handling misshipments, increased the use
of materials-handling equipment (MHE) because supplies had
to be handled multiple times, increased the use of transportation
assets needed to redirect misshipments back to the CDC for
forwarding, delayed the receipt of parts at supported units,
and minimized overall SSA operational capabilities.
External misships to SSAs adversely affected the throughput
of supplies at LSA Anaconda and throughout CJTF–7, minimized
CDC effectiveness in support of CJTF–7, and inflated
the demand for parts. External misships also increased the
use of CDC MHE, delayed delivery of parts and materials to
units, and minimized the operational capabilities of SSAs throughout
Backlogs at SSAs at LSA Anaconda and throughout CJTF–7
limited SSA mission capabilities. Internal backlogs turned
LSA Anaconda SSAs into misship warehousing facilities and
misship distribution centers; exhausted unit transportation
assets, which had to be used to move redirected misshipments;
and delayed deliveries to supported units by more than 72 hours.
External backlogs outside LSA Anaconda minimized CDC effectiveness
in support of CJTF–7 units, increased MHE hours because
of double and triple handling of supplies, delayed delivery
of parts to CJTF–7 units by at least 1 to 2 weeks, minimized
SSA operational capabilities throughout CJTF–7, inflated
the demand for parts throughout CJTF–7, and taxed the
capabilities and assets of SSAs.
Lost parts increased equipment not-mission-capable rates by
30 to 90 days. Internally lost parts at LSA Anaconda inflated
demand for parts, fostered multiple orders for parts, exhausted
the supply system, overwhelmed both transportation and MHE
assets, and increased the funds spent on local purchases of
parts and equipment. Parts lost outside LSA Anaconda increased
spending on contracted haulers, exhausted organic transportation
and MHE capabilities, increased the number of retrograde items
to be managed and transported, increased demand for warehouse
space to accommodate retrograde items, and limited the operational
capabilities of CJTF–7 units.
The concept of operations for the hub-and-spoke system developed
out of the need to redirect misshipments between the two primary
SSAs at LSA Anaconda, the 240th Quartermaster Company (Direct
Support) and the 147th Maintenance Company (Direct Support),
both of which are part of the 7th CSG. Each SSA was receiving
misships meant for the other SSA, and each lacked the transportation
and MHE assets to redirect shipments for issue to supporting
units quickly and responsively. So the 413th Quartermaster
Battalion (Supply and Services), an Army Reserve unit, was
tasked to assist and minimize the impact of misships to the
Two 30-foot trailers staged at the 240th Quartermaster Company
were dedicated to handling 147th Maintenance Company misships.
The misships were identified, loaded on the trailers, and pushed
to the 147th Maintenance Company, where they were off-loaded.
The trailers then were loaded with 240th Quartermaster Company
misships and returned to the 240th Quartermaster Company yard.
The frequency of misships to the two SSAs dictated that supplies
be moved every other day, with an average volume of 11⁄2
trailer loads. The support the 413th Quartermaster Battalion
provided in handling misships allowed the two SSAs to concentrate
their efforts on servicing their supported units.
The hub-and-spoke system then was expanded into an internal
system that supported all six SSAs at LSA Anaconda. The other
four SSAs were A Company, 7–159 Aviation Maintenance
Battalion [part of the 7th CSG]; B Company, 7–159 Aviation
Maintenance Battalion; the 588th Maintenance Company [part
of the 19th Maintenance Battalion, III Corps Artillery]; and
the 349th Quartermaster Company (Direct Support) [a California
Army National Guard unit]. Fifteen 30-foot trailers were dedicated
and staged to receive, transport, and redistribute misships
among the six SSAs. The frequency of internal hub-and-spoke
misships dictated support 6 days a week, with an average daily
volume of 51⁄2 trailer loads.
The final concept of operation expanded the “Anaconda
Express” hub-and-spoke system to manage both internal
and external support of SSAs throughout CJTF–7. The hub-and-spoke
system had proven effective at managing misships at LSA Anaconda,
but LSA Anaconda was still receiving misships from other LSAs,
retrograded supplies, and unidentifiable frustrated supplies.
The focus of the external mission was to support the management
of frustrated CJTF–7 misships and serviceable excess.
Using seventeen 30-foot trailers staged in support of the SSAs
at LSA Anaconda, support was extended to include 1011th Quartermaster
Company (Direct Support) frustrated cargo, CJTF–7 misships,
and serviceable excess. Frequency of support dictated operations
6 days a week, with an average daily volume of seven trailer
loads. Using the hub-and-spoke system, frustrated supplies
and serviceable excesses were identified and redirected to
other LSAs and the TDC to be put back into the sup-ply distributions
The LSA Anaconda hub-and-spoke system increased SSA productivity
as the system assumed the task of transporting internal and
external misships. It also expedited delivery of needed misshipped
materials to SSAs and to other logistics nodes in CJTF–7.
Finally, the hub-and-spoke system reduced the number of items
lost in transit.
When a theater of operations is opened and the primary plan
of support is not adequately responsive to customer units,
alternate courses of action must be developed to support
supply and distribution activities. Using a hub-and-spoke
system as an alternative course of action improved support
to SSAs, LSA Anaconda, and CJTF–7 until the theater distribution
system became responsive.
Captain Paul E. Williams, USAR, is an Active
Guard/Reserve (AGR) officer serving as the S–2/3 Plans
Officer with the 167th Support Group (Corps) at Londonderry,
He has a B.A. Degree in History from the State University of
New York at Stony Brook and is a graduate of the Quartermaster
Officer Basic Course and the Combined Logistics Captains Career