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Wednesday, March 12

Soldiers' arrival rounds out 502nd Infantry Regiment in Kuwait

By Matthew Cox

CAMP NEW YORK, Kuwait The last load of soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Fort Campbell, Ky., arrived at Camp New York on Tuesday, bringing the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to full strength.

It was just over a month ago that the 101st received its deployment order. Now, after 70 commercial charter flights, about 20,000 soldiers from the division are spread out across various camps here.

But the deployment is not yet complete. The first of the 101st's six supply ships carrying all the units helicopters, vehicles and other equipment arrived March 7. The rest of the ships are scheduled to arrive in about a week.

Its like moving a small city, said Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st. We had about (250) helicopters, over 6,000 vehicles and other weapon systems. We used over 1,600 rail cars and 1,200 commercial trucks to take it all to the port.

But the challenge didnt end there. Sustaining such a large number of soldiers takes constant coordination, he said.

Its a massive undertaking, he said. This is all about logistics.

And to Capt. Mike Hammond, assistant logistics officer for the 502nd, its all about priorities.

We set the priorities on what we need first, based on the mission, he said. Food and water thats what is most important to me.

Each of the soldiers in the 502nd is allowed six liters of water a day. For approximately 3,500 soldiers, thats 1,173 cases of water that have to be distributed every day, he said.

Its not that critical right now because of the temperature, but if we were in July or August, it would be very critical, Hammond said.

But these hurdles will seem trivial to the headaches that leaders will face if President Bush orders an invasion of Iraq.

There are a host of challenges that we are going to have to deal with in the areas of logistics and long-range communications and, of course, what the enemy might do, Petraeus said. The enemy does get a vote in this, and we are appropriately preparing for the worst.

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Matthew Cox, a writer with Gannett's Army Times newspaper, is helping cover the war for Gannett News Service.