Overwhelmed by wartime logistics

Be careful what you wish for.

Last week, I was disappointed that I wasn't able to get as many military voices in my stories as I would have liked. Now, it's almost 3 a.m. on Monday here in Kuwait, and I'm still trying to figure out how many stories to bombard you (and my editors) with in the next few days.

My trip to Camp Arifjan on Sunday was basically a four-hour tutorial from numerous Army information technology managers and logisticians, along with an assortment of contractors. They filled me in on the systems that track all those supplies that keep troops moving throughout southwest Asia.

Maj. Forrest Burke, chief of logistics information management here for the Coalition Forces Land Component Command, provided me with the "big picture" and shared his thoughts on how the Army's logistics have evolved since Operation Desert Storm, when he had to go "container diving" for useful supplies.

After a few hours with Burke, I saw a variety of vehicle and cargo tracking systems, the warehouses that hold all of those supplies, and a wireless communications system that provides Internet connectivity to an ammunition outpost that's more than two miles off the base.

The Army logistics folks had done their homework on me: They presented me with a picture that one of their colleagues had taken with Geraldo Rivera [see my notebook from March 24], and even busted my chops about my experience at Camp Doha with the Patriot missiles [notebook, March 27].

It's that kind of experience that makes it tough to remain objective. The men and women here — who are actively doing their part to fight in a war — are so eager to tell you about the systems they use, warts and all. I'm so accustomed to prying information out of sources, but at Camp Arifjan I met more than a dozen people who, one after the other, gave me more information than I could handle.

All I can say is this, I honestly feel like my trip to Arifjan yesterday made this whole trip to Kuwait worthwhile. I hope the stories and pictures that come from those interviews portray that in an accurate and objective way — which is sometimes easier said than done. Watch for the reports in the next few days.

And finally, special thanks go to Technical and Management Services Corp.'s Irvin "Robbie" Robinson and Byers Coleman, the in-transit visibility coordinator at the Eagle Group International Inc., for providing me with transportation and an escort to and from the camp. Without them, none of it would have been possible.

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