Army Quartermaster Museum - Fort Lee, Virginia


Supply and Service in Somalia
CPT Larry Naylor
Quartermaster Professional Bulletin - Spring 1994

The 364th Supply and Service Company at Fort Bragg, NC. first deployed to Somalia in January 1993. A small element of 30 personnel was tasked with purifying and distributing water to United Nations Operation Somalia (UNOSOM) Forces, as part of Operation Restore Hope. They redeployed three months later.

Later the entire 364th went to Somalia in August 1993 and left in December 1993 after providing logistical support to U.S. soldiers and UNOSOM Coalition Forces. When the company was initially notified in July the mission was to provide only enough personnel to operate a theater supply support activity (SSA) for Class II (general supplies). packaged III (petroleum, oils and lubricants), IV (construction and barrier materiel), and VII (major end items).

Gradually, the mission expanded to include operating the theater distribution point for both perishable and nonperishable rations; receiving, storing and issuing Class II, III, pack aged III, IV and VII supplies; operating the theater central receiving point for Class I (rations). II, packaged Ill, IV. VII, VIII (medical supplies), and IX (repair parts) supplies; providing mobile retail fuel support to five major compounds located throughout Mogadishu; and operating a remote forward area refuel point in Badera, Somalia.

The mission appeared overwhelming, considering that the company had to continue its garrison mission at Fort Bragg. The company also had to prepare a little differently for this deployment because of the shift in mission from supporting a humanitarian relief effort to providing logistical support in a combat environment. The training emphasis was on reacting to ambushes, convoy operations and surviving in an urban warfare environment. Preparing soldiers to react to enemy aggressions was a training challenge. In garrison, the soldiers constantly focused on their logistical mission, therefore minimizing training in common battle tasks. To make sure soldiers could react to the threat environment they would enter, the company organized and completed four weeks of rigorous training on several combat scenarios. Soldiers also received detailed instructions on rules of engagement and laws of war.

Expectations
The company of 123 personnel deployed 3 Sep 93 expecting a 180- day deployment as part of the 13th Corps Support Battalion. The unit had an extremely diverse mission ranging from perimeter security to routine mission support. The 364th provided the guard force for 40 percent of the defensive perimeter of the Sword Base compound. Sword Base was the only compound defended by 100 percent U.S. forces in Mogadishu. The soldiers providing that protection were all combat service support soldiers.

The company provided an average of 65 soldiers daily for perimeter guard. This greatly reduced the number of soldiers available for mission support, but the 364th's remaining soldiers worked harder to get the job done.

In the Class I arena, the company performed an extremely critical mission. A 30-soldier detachment from the 406th General Sup ply Company from Fort Bragg operated the semi perishable Class I supply point while a 76-soldier detachment from the 227th General Supply Company, Fort Campbell, KY, operated the perishable supply point. The semiperishable section had the mission of providing over 7,000 U.S. soldiers and 24,000 coalition soldiers with Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), T-Rations, B-Rations, supplements, condiments and bottled water.

A big problem initially in the nonperishable area was the shortage of serviceable rough terrain container handlers (RTCHs) and operators. Almost all stocks were received in military-owned demountable containers (MILVANS). Thus, the availability of RTCHs and operators was critical. As a supply and service company, the modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE) did not authorize RTCH operators. Therefore the company was not equipped to provide operators and maintenance support. Fortunately, the company had one licensed RTCH operator who was able to cross-train several soldiers. The company maintenance section had a few innovative soldiers who used the technical manuals to improve operational readiness of the RTCHs from two of five to five of five fully mission capable.

Another problem was rations packaging. Several shipments of rations were not palletized, causing a higher damage rate during transport. This was particularly evident with bottled water. The soldiers spent many hours separating damaged bottles from serviceable bottles and then repacking bottles into multipackage boxes. Improper packaging caused a loss estimated at $300,000.

Inventorying stocks was a time-consuming process. All inventories were conducted manually. This method was primitive considering our knowledge and capability in automated technology. With automated data processing equipment and the bar code reader, productivity could have been greatly increased and inventory time reduced. This would have made a significant impact because as many as 100 MILVANs were received in a single day.

Quality A-Ration condiments also caused some problems because the field feeding menu did not match the condiments on hand. Also, issue factors were mixed from various menus. The solution would be to push complete menus with issue factors to the theater distribution point before issuing to a customer. This would not only aid in providing quality customer service but also assist the dining facility sergeant. Despite some problems, the Class I semi perishable mission was a success.

In the Class I perishable arena, 750,000 pounds of rations were received and stored. Over one million pounds were issued with no loss from spoilage. The largest concern in the perishable section was maintaining the refrigeration units. When the company took the mission, repair parts were unavailable. The soldiers completely assessed each piece of equipment, ordered the repair parts, and thereafter maintained an operational readiness rate of 92 percent.

The petroleum/water mission was much more than expected. The company anticipated operating a retail fuel point. Upon arrival, the mission had grown to operating a retail fuel point on one compound, line hauling to four additional compounds and operating a helicopter refuel point in Badera, Somalia, at a Botswani compound. On top of this mission, the petroleum platoon inherited the mission of supplying the entire Sword Base compound with potable water. From September to December, five soldiers with military occupational specialty 77W (water purification specialist) distributed over three million gallons of potable water to 1,200 soldiers on the compound. The initial problems were mainly shortages of 77W-qualified personnel for the water mission.

Before the company's departure, there was no indication of the company's water mission. Fortunately, the decision was made to bring 77W personnel to Somalia as a worst case scenario for any possible missions. The petroleum section distributed over two million gallons of fuel and a very large quantity of water to five compounds.

Excellent Job
The 364th also operated the theater central receiving point for Classes II, packaged III, IV, VII, VIII and IX supplies as well as operating the Class II, packaged III, IV and VII supply support activity (SSA). The SSA operated under the Direct Support Unit Standard Supply System (DS4) desktop computer system. The soldiers operating the SSA succeeded in supporting 71 U.S. customer units comprised of the Joint Task Force (JTF) units and the Logistical Support Command (LSC) units. Also, over 24 coalition forces of UNOSOM were supported. The soldiers maintained an authorized stockage list (ASL) of 569 lines valued at $3.9 million. They processed over 10,000 requests for supplies and 6,000 receipts. They completed over $7 million worth of transactions with few errors. A few minor stumbling blocks caused slight turbulence in the operation, but they were all quickly overcome. For example, the theater needed a structured material management center (MMC), but the MMC was not in place. Also, there were no instructions for turning in unserviceable items.

Customers could not turn in unserviceable items to the SSA because the SSA lacked storage space. The SSA could not turn in to a higher source of supply because there was none. The problem was solved by establishing a turn-in process which retrograded unserviceable items to the United States. This solution was the best option for all parties because the customer was able to turn in the unserviceable items and the SSA was not cluttered with "junk."

Another big problem was the lack of "float" or standby computer systems in Somalia. "Floats" were not available for the Tactical Army Communication Computer System (TACCS) or the DS4 system. SSA operations ceased on two occasions because there were no extra computers available to substitute for computers that needed repair. One final problem for the SSA was operating the UNOSOM Class IV warehouse. It was virtually impossible for the U.S. to receive approval from the UNOSOM-4 (U4) section to pick up Class IV supplies from the warehouse. This was very frustrating since U.S. soldiers were maintaining the operation, yet U.S. soldiers could not get quality support in the Class IV commodity. The SSA solved this problem by establishing a U.S. Class IV yard which strictly served U.S. units. A sergeant took a section of the compound, cleaned the area, established locations and established an ASL. The result was a successful operation which provided all U.S. customers quality support in the Class IV area.

Mortar Fire
Soldiers were receiving mortar fire, small arms fire and sniper fire in the evening and reporting to duty the next day for their mission. The 364th was very flexible and adjusted to every situation with ease. Everyone survived, all missions were professionally executed and we all made it home.

At the time this article was written in 1994, CPT Larry Naylor was Commander, 364th Supply and Service Company; Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His unit served in Mogadishu, Somalia, under the 13th Corps Support Battalion, one of the two Corps Support Battalions serving under the 507th Logistical Task Force, supporting the United Nations Forces in Somalia. The 364th Supply and Service Company arrived in Somalia in August 1993 and left in December 1993.


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