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    Old Ironsides keeps MSR Tampa security iron clad

    07.06.2004

    Courtesy Story

    1-230th Cavalry Regiment

    Story by: Sgt. M. Trent Lowry

    If the road system in Iraq could be compared to the human circulatory system, Main Supply Route Tampa is the artery that keeps the life blood of the country flowing.

    Continuing with the medical analogy, Task Force 1st Armored Division Soldiers are the white blood cells that protect Iraq from any elements that would attack the body. Just ask members of C Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

    "I'd say MSR Tampa is one of the most important routes in theater," said Capt. Richard A. Graves, company commander of C Company, and Shreveport, La., native.

    "When you see the amount of logistics that pass through here, you quickly see the importance of the mission. If supplies can't get through, then people don't eat and vehicles don't get fixed." Though it doesn't stop at Baghdad, the 450 mile long MSR Tampa is the main line of communication between Baghdad and Kuwait. It carries civilian 18-wheelers and military convoys alike. The length of the highway makes keeping it safe from enemy elements a daunting task, but one that 1AD and its Soldiers are up to.

    "Anywhere through there the enemy can place IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. Anywhere through there they can attack us with small arms fire and RPGs [rocket propelled grenades]," said 1st Lt. John R. Pulleyn, C Company executive officer, from Chattanooga, Tenn.

    "In our sector alone that is the main mission: protect the route."

    In the months since Task Force 1AD troops have taken over the mission of safeguarding the passageway, C Company has been on the receiving end of mortars, IEDs and various types of rocket attacks.

    While that may be a lot to contend with -- and fortunately, the attacks have resulted in neither injuries for C Company, nor any damage to the route infrastructure --attacks against the troops are a sign that the security efforts are working.

    "The enemy is targeting us because we've denied them any access to the big targets, like bridges," Graves said. "We're not giving them enough time or the places to set up their IEDs."

    Knowing the enemy is out there is further reason for the troops to perform at their highest levels. "It helps when you have an enemy trying to kill you to help motivate you to make your mission a success," Graves said.

    Part of keeping the route secure entails shoring up the bridges. Soldiers have set up various combinations of concertina wire, sand barricades and speed bumps protecting the structures.

    "Just like whenever you are defending a piece of ground in warfare, you are always trying to improve your position," Pulleyn said. "That's what we're doing here -- making improvements and adjusting from there. We find out what security measures work and go with that."

    Because of the route's length, keeping the MSR stocked with troops and vehicles can be a tricky task for the units. "Like most missions, it's always a challenge to get the right amount of men and materials to the right place at the right time, but I don't think we'll have any problem accomplishing that," Pulleyn said. "It's very time consuming, but I'd say the [companies] have responded remarkably well. We're getting it done and staying focused."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.06.2004
    Date Posted: 07.06.2004 09:18
    Story ID: 61
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