Superman




 
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July 17th, 2007  
phoenix80
 
 

Topic: Superman


Superman

Route Tampa is the major supply route for Coalition forces in Iraq. Billions of dollars’ worth of gear and supplies are pumped up the northbound artery, while rumbling down the southbound vein back to Kuwait are damaged vehicles, units returning from a year or longer at war and convoys of empty trucks. Along the way, thousands of blue, black and clear plastic bags twirl, swirl and skitter in the hot dusty winds. The bags ramble about like so much plastic tumbleweed; aligning along the wind, drifting along the desert currents until they catch on nettles, concertina or the shards of wreckage. On those summer days so hot machines and bodies begin to falter, the air inside the bags is heated just a few degrees more, enough that some bags spontaneously buoy and drift away.

The convoys, sometimes hundreds of semi-trucks long, are guarded by gun trucks, but they have no real safety, apart from numbers. Down near Kuwait, Route Tampa is mostly safe, except for normal driving hazards such as crazy drivers rocketing around in their BMWs and Mercedeses. A couple years back, I saw a spray-painted warning on a concrete barrier that said something like “Watch out for dumbass camels.Only a combat soldier could have written that, I thought, or maybe a Marine. After he and his buddies had just crawled out of a flipped-over Humvee, its wheels still spinning, maybe one of them stepped over a couple of dead camels on the searing pavement, picked up a can of paint and sprayed that caution for all who followed.

Once inside Iraq, although there are relatively few bombs down by the Kuwaiti border, convoys have to watch for the lunatic local drivers, slicing through at 120mph, practically ripping the paint off trucks that more typically travel along at about 40 mph. I remember my first journey down Tampa from Mosul to Kuwait in a Humvee back in 2005. I was tagging along with CSM Jeffrey Mellinger, who seemed to be checking under every bush in Iraq to see how the troops were doing. The CSM could have flown in helicopters or whatever, but I’ve got photos of him on two separate occasions changing his own Humvee tires on Route Tampa—in extremely dangerous areas.

Of the enemy, Mellinger would say things like, “We’ve already killed all the stupid ones. Stay on your game. You can relax when you get home to momma, but not when you’re with me.” CSM Mellinger would tell his crew, “If there is the slightest notion in your head that something is not right, listen to it. Call it up on the radio. Tell everyone. If you make a mistake and call up something that’s nothing, that’s okay. But if you make a mistake and don’t call up something that is something, your Iraq tour might end under a flag. And that’s not okay.” He was very direct like that. His patrols were eventually hit a total of about 30 times.

Many of the attacks in Iraq are complex ambushes. The first part of the attack is more of a shaping move. It might kill some of our people, but it’s designed to move the rest of our soldiers where the enemy wants them for the follow-on. Early in 2007, I drove with CSM Mellinger to Samarra where an instance of that type of complex ambush had just happened. He talked with the platoon from the 82nd. Some of them looked pretty banged up. One of the young soldiers whose face was scratched up just kept staring in complete silence. I think they had just had about five killed in action when the enemy hit the rescuers. Happens frequently.

For convoys heading up Route Tampa, the safety of numbers collides with statistics as the frequency curve of attacks seems to climb to nearly vertical. The sights and smells of burning semi-trucks becomes more common the closer one gets to Baghdad. On a busy day and a long haul, it’s not unusual to be diverted or delayed a half-dozen times or more due to real or suspected bombs. The thousands of miles of roads circulating traffic around Iraq leave many advantages to the attackers, and there must be more species of attackers here than of frogs on the Suwannee River.

As Tampa stretches up to Baghdad, the road becomes like the jugular of Iraq, surprisingly vulnerable for something so critical to maintaining life here. Keeping just that one highway open is a 24/7 job, because it gets bombed many times every day of the week. All the jets coursing overhead peering down, and all the countless “cool gadgets” that make contractors shamefully rich, simply do not stop the bombs. While most bombs are detected before they can be detonated, or least cause no casualties if their discovery comes only after their detonation, thousands of deaths and severe injuries—Coalition and Iraqi—result from bomb attacks each year.

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July 17th, 2007  
rock45
 

Topic: Down near Kuwait, Route Tampa is mostly safe


Quote:
The convoys, sometimes hundreds of semi-trucks long, are guarded by gun trucks, but they have no real safety, apart from numbers.
Is this a place where extra tanks IFV could be used? What could be done to make it a little safer? Is it worth while for US ground forces in the Route Tampa area to to set up bases with fixed assets to hold the ground and better secure the area? Sorry for the basic questions and thank you. Rock45
July 18th, 2007  
phoenix80
 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rock45
Is this a place where extra tanks IFV could be used? What could be done to make it a little safer? Is it worth while for US ground forces in the Route Tampa area to to set up bases with fixed assets to hold the ground and better secure the area? Sorry for the basic questions and thank you. Rock45
I am no expert to answer you, my friend. but I do guess they don't want to risk losing people when it is really impossible to guard hundreds and hundreds miles of roads in the middle of nowhere.

I heard they use EW airplanes, i.e EA-6Bs to detect IEDs on the major roads used by US forces. I think they do whatever they can to protect their people. May be our Iraq vet members can answer you better.

anyhow, I wish all the US troops best of luck and hope they're safe!
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July 19th, 2007  
rock45
 

Topic: Hundreds of miles


Hi phoenix80
I didn't realize it was hundreds of mile of miles of road in the middle of nowhere I thought in was a area, in which the road cuts through. I see what you mean not much point setting up field bases for such a large area. Maybe a night flying C-130 gunship that I was reading a ways back in a post would be a good thing.
July 19th, 2007  
03USMC
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rock45
Is this a place where extra tanks IFV could be used? What could be done to make it a little safer? Is it worth while for US ground forces in the Route Tampa area to to set up bases with fixed assets to hold the ground and better secure the area? Sorry for the basic questions and thank you. Rock45

I could answer that but they use the internet too. So your getting in to an area that does not need to be delved into indepth. All the routes have their problems nuff said.
July 19th, 2007  
rock45
 

Topic: Internet


Hi 03USMC
I totally unstand
 


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