Logistically Possible to Withdraw from Iraq within 6-8 months? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Logistically Possible to Withdraw from Iraq within 6-8 months?
 


10 November 2007 at 9:03:45 AM
salon

Received this from the Bill Richardson campaign.

From: US Army (Ret.) LTC Lon Cross
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2007 7:49 AM
To: Richardson Senior Staff
Subject: Re: Redeploying troops in Iraq

The conventional wisdom on Iraq is wrong. In recent months, politicians from both sides of the aisle have scoffed at the notion that US Forces could conduct a complete and safe withdrawal from Iraq in a matter of months. Most of these critiques have been "myth based," short on facts and long on conjecture driven by the critic's personal political agenda.

It is not my intention to weigh the merits of the competing redeployment proposals with respect to which is most strategically and politically sound. In the succeeding paragraphs, I will draw upon my knowledge as a retired field-grade infantry and logistics officer, and will present the facts that are relevant to an evaluation of what is logistically feasible regarding the redeployment of US Forces from Iraq.

For the sake of brevity, when making the case as to what is logistically supportable, I will only address the proposal with the most aggressive timeline, which is Governor Bill Richardson's call for a complete redeployment within six to eight months. As the evidence below will show, this scenario is very much achievable.

Here's how: despite the myth being propagated that there is only one route into and out of Iraq, there are actually seven land routes.

These routes include: four that lead to the Kuwaiti ports, including the main expressway from Baghdad to Umm Qasr as well as a highway that rolls along the Tigris to Umm Qasr, and two highways that cut through Saudi Arabia into Kuwait. In addition, there is a viable rail option in the north into Turkey (the Army Corps of Engineers has upgraded the line), as well as the expressway north into Turkey and one that leads into Jordan.

Therefore, depending on what we can expect in the way of political support from neighboring countries, we can reasonably assume between four and seven land routes out of Iraq.

Next comes the question of what has to traverse those routes, and there are three primary logistics problems to solve. First, there are some 50,000 pieces of rolling stock -- vehicles, both combat and non-combat, such as tanks and Humvees, that can propel themselves out of Iraq. A simple division of 50,000 by six or eight months shows that we would need to withdraw an average of, respectively, 274 or 205 vehicles per day.

Second, there are some 200,000 Short Tons (2000 pounds per Short Ton) of unit equipment and supplies that will require being carted into containers and shipped out. This number is actually a conservative estimate, but it also gives lie to the second myth about a future redeployment: we do not need to bring back everything we brought to Iraq.

To be sure, these 200,000 Short Tons include all weapons, ammunition, and sensitive items. But it leaves behind fixed-assets such as barracks and gymnasiums. Risking even a single troop's life through delay in order to break these assets down brick-by-brick would be a travesty.

The 200,000 Short Tons would then be broken down and placed on 40-foot containers that will transport 15 Short Tons each. Thus, it would take some 13,333 containers to remove all of our necessary stationary equipment from Iraq. Again, this is quite doable, with a six-month redeployment requiring 73 containers per day, and eight months requiring 55.

Finally, we must of course account for the brave men and women who are serving in Iraq right now. These troops represent both the most important and the easiest of the logistics equation, as many would be integrated as security into the convoys that will bring the equipment home. Additionally, a fleet of C-130s, C-17s, and civilian jet liners could assist by air, as is currently done to transport most troops.

Combined, then, US Forces would need to redeploy a sum total of 347 and 260 moveable units daily (for the six and eight month scenarios, respectively). Moreover, in reality, these two flows need not be mutually exclusive. Some portion of the 200,000 Short Tons may be moved by the rolling stock fleet. For here, however, I am going to treat these two numbers as discrete so as to provide the analysis for a more conservative time-line.

Assuming that we employed as few as three of the seven available roads every day in order to maintain tactical surprise, the redeployment would require moving 116 or 87 vehicles per path, per day. This task is quite achievable by a military that moved half a million troops and accompanying equipment out of Iraq in four months following the first Gulf War.

I am not qualified to speak as to what the best course of action in Iraq would be, though, like all Americans, I have my opinions. I do know, however, what is possible, and a safe and complete redeployment of all American forces within six to eight months is, without question, achievable.

Below I have included more details and specifics about the redeployment for your information.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lon Cross is a Research Fellow at LMI (formerly known as the Logistics Management Institute) where he specializes in Logistics and Supply Chain Risk Management and Process Improvement. Currently, all of his clients reside within the Department of Defense. Lon is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. He took part in drafting the 82nd Airborne Division's Operations Orders for Operation Urgent Fury, the 1983 invasion of Grenada, as well as the re-equipping of a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division following the first Persian Gulf War. He holds an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

THROUGHPUT:

I estimate that a total of 50,000 pieces of rolling stock, both combat and non-combat vehicles, as well as trailers; and 200,000 Short Tons (2,000 pounds per Short Ton) of unit equipment and supplies will require redeployment.1

A TIME Magazine article, dated 30 July 2007, reflected the following numbers as an estimate for the number of vehicles that will be redeployed by the US Forces in Iraq.

HMMWV: 24,000
Abrams: 366
Bradley: 679
M88 Recovery Vehicles: 192
HEMTT/PLS (Heavy Trucks): 3282
HETS (Heavy Equipment Transport System): 912
TOTAL: 29,431

Left out of the numbers above are the medium tactical truck fleet, heavy tactical truck fleet (M915 variant), engineer equipment, M113 variants (yes, there are still 20-30k of the Vietnam-era M113 Armored Personnel Carrier variants in the Army inventory), artillery pieces, Stryker vehicles and trailers. For that reason, I feel that 50,000 pieces of equipment is a better planning figure for estimating the size of the rolling stock fleet with which the US Forces will redeploy.

NOTE1: In order to normalize Short Tons of equipment and supplies so they can be viewed as a throughput, I translated Short Tons of equipment and supplies into 40-foot ISO Container equivalents. The throughput is measured in terms of moveable units. For the purposes of this analysis, individual pieces of rolling stock (combat and non-combat vehicles as well as trailers) and individual 40-foot ISO Containers are considered moveable units.

Estimates in terms of total tonnage of supplies and equipment that need to be redeployed, range up into the "billions of pounds" [TIME Article 30 July 2007]. These estimates overstate the task facing logisticians charged with redeploying the forces from Iraq. The estimated 50,000 pieces of rolling stock comprise 80% of the tonnage represented by the US military equipment and supplies in Iraq. I have found that these "overstated" estimates have double counted the weight of the vehicles.

I estimate that 200,000 Short Tons (400,000,000 pounds) of supplies, personal equipment and non-vehicular unit equipment will need to be redeployed.2 Non-vehicular equipment that needs to be redeployed includes generators, mobile medical facilities, communications equipment, computers and maintenance tool sets. In terms of consumable supplies, the primary concern for redeployment should be ammunition and repair parts.

Rations, water, petroleum packaged products, fuel and medical supplies inventory levels can be drawn down as the forces redeploy. Construction and barrier materials can be left for the Iraqis to use. Fixed facilities, such as dining facilities, maintenance facilities, clinics and barracks should be left in place along with their installed fixtures.

REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE:

The following is an overview of the regional transportation infrastructure through which US Forces redeploying from Iraq may pass.

Commercial Ports:

Kuwait : (40 Commercial Berths)

  1. Shuaiba Port
  2. Shwaikh Port
  3. Doha Port

Jordan: (limited capacity)

Al Aqaba

Turkey: (100 Commercial Berths...listed below are the best ports with direct links to the Turkish National Railway System)

  1. Derince (Rail Link -- Sea of Marmara -- Near Istanbul)
  2. Hyderapassa (Rail Link -- Sea of Marmara -- Near Istanbul)
  3. Mersin (Rail Link -- Mediterranean Sea -- SE Turkey)
  4. Iskenderum (Rail Link -- Mediterranean Sea -- SE Turkey)

NOTE2: The estimate of 200,000 Short Tons (STons) was derived by analyzing the logistics footprints (as defined by the total deployed weight, measured in short tons, of the unit's vehicles, equipment and supplies) of a variety of different type Army combat units. From this analysis, a "per soldier" weight factor of 1.1 Short Tons of non-vehicular equipment and supplies, that require redeployment, was extracted. Using the current troop level of 160,000 personnel as a starting point, the initial estimate of equipment and supplies to be redeployed is 176,000 STons. For the sake of being more conservative, I rounded my estimate up to 200,000 STons.

Railroad:

Turkey:

  1. Rail is a viable option in the north. The US Army Corps of Engineers has upgraded the line from Forward Logistics Base Sycamore (vicinity Al Sahra Airbase northeast of Tikrit) to the main Baghdad-Mosul line, connecting with that line near Tikrit.
  2. The Turkish National Railways provide service into Iraq, passing through Northeast Syria. This line runs into Mosul.
  3. Once a train enters Turkey, it can be routed to a variety of commercial ports (see above).
  4. Transit time from an Iraqi Point of Origin to the Turkish Ports would be two to three days.
  5. For planning purposes, a train could carry 2500 Short Tons (50 rail cars * 50 Short Tons/car) or 50 vehicles [this is very conservative].

Southern Iraq and Kuwait: The rail capacity in southern Iraq is much more limited than in the north of Iraq, mainly due to poor maintenance and a lack of investment in recent years.

Jordan: Use of the railways in Jordan does not appear to be a viable option.

Highways:

Baghdad towards Kuwaiti Ports:

  1. Main Expressway from Baghdad to Umm Qasr (roughly 350 miles)
  2. Highway along the Tigris River from Baghdad to Umm Qasr (roughly 350 miles)
  3. Highway from Baghdad to Rafha, Saudi Arabia (roughly 250 miles); Pipeline Road into Kuwait (roughly 200 miles)
  4. Highway from Baghdad to Ar Ar, Saudi Arabia (roughly 250 miles); Pipeline Road into Kuwait (roughly 250 miles)

Baghdad towards Jordanian Port of Al Aqaba:

Main Expressway from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan (roughly 550 miles); Amman to Al Aqaba (roughly 200 miles)

Baghdad to Turkish Ports:

Main Expressway from Baghdad to Mosul (roughly 350 miles from Baghdad to the Turkish Border); From Iraqi-Turkish Border crossing to the Turkish Mediterranean Ports (roughly 300 miles)

ASSUMPTIONS:

  1. The flows of non-vehicular equipment and supplies (200,000 Short Tons) and the rolling stock fleet (50,000 pieces of equipment) are mutually exclusive events.
  2. The 200,000 Short Tons will be shipped using commercial means in 40-foot ISO Containers, 15 Short Tons per container (container payload capacity is 29.57 Short Tons).
  3. The rolling stock fleet will be self-propelled from its point of origin to the berth at the sea port of embarkation.
  4. On any given day, three redeployment paths are viable.
  5. Each redeployment path will consist of a land route out of Iraq (highway mode or railroad mode), a berth at the port of embarkation, an ocean-going vessel, a berth at a port of disembarkation, and a land route to the home base.
  6. None of the redeployment paths have a segment in which commercial aircraft or military aircraft is the transportation mode.
  7. All redeploying US Forces will move from a point of origin in Iraq to their home base.

In reality, the two flows may not be mutually exclusive. Some portion of the 200,000 Short Tons of non-vehicular equipment and supplies may be moved by the rolling stock fleet redeployed by the US Forces. Additionally, some vehicles may transport other vehicles, such as HETS transporting Abrams tanks. By treating the two flows as mutually exclusive events, I am creating an outer limit for the redeployment scenarios being considered. Essentially, if the six and eight-month redeployment scenarios are logistically feasible and supportable under the outer limit conditions, then logically, the scenarios are logistically feasible and supportable under less stringent conditions. Relaxing the assumed constraint that the flows are mutually exclusive would represent a set of less stringent conditions.

The task of redeploying 200,000 Short Tons of non-vehicular equipment and supplies as well as 50,000 pieces of rolling stock in six months or eight months is difficult to conceptualize unless it is broken down into more "digestible" portions. Looking at the six and eight-month redeployment scenarios in terms of what will have to be accomplished on a daily basis places the tasks in a context that is easier to grasp. Given a six-month redeployment scenario, the US Forces will need to move 73 containers of non-vehicular equipment and supplies per day. If the US Forces take eight months to redeploy, they will need to ship 55 containers per day.3

In a six-month redeployment scenario, the US Forces will need to redeploy 274 pieces of rolling stock (combat and non-combat vehicles as well as trailers) per day. Should the redeployment take place over an eight-month period, the daily redeployment flow of vehicles and trailers will need to be 205.4

The total daily throughput of the redeployment scenarios (pieces of rolling stock plus containers) is 347 and 260 moveable units for the six-month and eight-month redeployment scenarios, respectively.5

NOTE3: 200,000 Short Tons represents the equivalent of 13,333 40-foot ISO Containers (15 tons per container). Using 183 days for six months [(6/12 x 365 days) rounded up to the nearest whole day] and 243 days for eight months [(8/12 x 365) rounded up to the nearest whole day]; 13,333 containers/183 days = 73 containers/day; and 13,333 containers/243 days = 55 containers/day.

NOTE4: Using 183 days for six months [(6/12 x 365 days) rounded up to the nearest whole day] and 243 days for eight months [(8/12 x 365) rounded up to the nearest whole day]; 50,000 pieces of rolling stock/183 days = 274 pieces of rolling stock/day; and 50,000 pieces of rolling stock/243 days = 205 pieces of rolling stock/day.

The daily throughput of moveable units that will be redeployed by the US Forces is not particularly meaningful unless it is analyzed in the context of the transportation infrastructure it must pass through.

The overview of the regional transportation infrastructure reveals at least seven land routes out of Iraq (four to the Kuwati ports, one to the Jordanian Port of Al Aqaba, one to the Turkish ports by highway, and one to the Turkish ports by railroad). Each land route leads to at least one port of embarkation with multiple berths at which the moveable units can be loaded on ocean-going vessels. In the case a land route is denied, due to the current military or political situation, multiple redeployment paths remain viable.6

In any transportation analysis, the points at which transfers from one mode to another occur pose the greatest risk of creating bottlenecks. In this case, the berths at the ports of embarkation and disembarkation are the points at which the redeployment paths change modes of transportation (highway or railroad (land routes) to ocean-going vessel at the port of embarkation; ocean-going vessel to highway or railroad at the port of disembarkation).

The daily anticipated throughput along a given redeployment path will be 116 and 87 moveable units for the six-month and eight-month redeployment scenarios, respectively. In order for these redeployment scenarios to be logistically feasible and supportable, all berths at the sea ports of embarkation and disembarkation along any of the redeployment paths would have to manage the daily anticipated throughput.7

All of the ports of embarkation considered in the regional transportation infrastructure overview have sufficient material handling equipment to accommodate the daily anticipated throughput of both scenarios. To provide some perspective to these anticipated throughput estimates, a comparison to a US port facility may be instructive. In 2006, the berths at the Port of Long Beach, California averaged daily throughput in excess of 250 moveable units.

NOTE5: Daily Throughput for the six-month redeployment scenario is 347 moveable units (347 moveable units = 274 pieces of rolling stock 73 containers). Daily throughput for the eight-month redeployment scenario is 260 moveable units (260 moveable units = 205 pieces of rolling stock 55 containers). To put these flows into perspective, the average number of moveable units (over-the-road trailers and railroad cars) of freight crossing the US-Mexican Border at Laredo, Texas on a daily basis exceeds 4,000.

NOTE6: A Redeployment Path is defined as the land route out of Iraq, the berth at the sea port of embarkation, the berth at the sea port of disembarkation and land route to the home base through which a redeploying moveable unit will flow while moving from its point of origin in Iraq to its home base.

NOTE7: Given the assumption that three viable redeployment paths on any given day and the daily throughput for the six-month redeployment scenario as 347 moveable units, the daily flow along a given redeployment path = 116 moveable units/redeployment path = 347 moveable units/3 redeployment paths. Given three viable redeployment paths on any given day and the daily throughput for the eight-month redeployment scenario as 260 moveable units, the daily flow along a given redeployment path = 87 moveable units/redeployment path = 260 moveable units/3 redeployment paths.

The anticipated daily throughput per redeployment path of the six-month and eight-month redeployment scenarios is approximately 46.3% and 34.7%, respectively, of the average daily throughput per berth at the Port of Long Beach.8

NOTE8: Annual traffic at the Port of Long Beach in 2006 was 7,300,000 moveable units. 5,300 vessels called at the port in 2006. Average number of moveable units offloaded per vessel was 1377. 7,300,000 moveable units/5,300 vessels = 1377 moveable units per vessel. There are 80 berths at the Port of Long Beach. Each berth received an average of 66.25 vessels in 2006. 66.25 vessels per berth per year = 5,300 vessels per year/80 berths. Each vessel was berthed an average of 5.51 days. 365 days per year/66.25 vessels per berth per year = 5.51 days/ vessel per berth. Daily throughput per berth was 250 moveable units. 1377 moveable units per vessel/5.51 days/vessel per berth = 250 moveable units per berth per day.


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