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Saturday, March 29

Resupplying slows Marine’s push toward Baghdad

By C. Mark Brinkley | Marine Corps Times

NEAR AN NASIRIYAH, Iraq - Most of the 1st Marine Division has slowed its push north to secure a flow of supplies and ensure a safe and steady push toward Baghdad.

"We’re here to let the logistics of the theater develop," said Lt. Col. Kirk Hymes, 42, of Altoona, Pa., commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. "We’re getting a full tank of gas. We’re getting a truckload of bullets. And we’re getting chow to help us move north."

Jokes running through the regiment say the Army ran out of gas in the middle of Iraq and Marines had to slow down their war march so the soldiers wouldn’t look bad. Army Times reporter Sean D. Naylor, traveling with the 3rd Infantry Division, said his crew did not run out of fuel but it was a critical issue.

"As you can imagine when a mechanized or an armored unit pushes forward rapidly in the field, the units with ammunition etc. have to follow along behind," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor E. "Gene" Renuart Jr., director of operations at Central Command. "There’s a period of time that it takes to keep that supply train moving and make it robust."

So, for whatever reason, the Marines about 60 miles north of An Nasiriyah along the Euphrates River, have spent the past few days resting, repairing and resupplying. Only the essentials are coming in, and luxuries such as mail and hot food have been missing in action since days before the war kicked off.

Speaking at a Pentagon briefing Saturday, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said supply lines overall are working well.

"If it's Private McChrystal out there and he doesn't get all of the MREs (meals ready to eat) he wants, then there's a resupply problem for one person at least," he said. "Water, food and munitions are getting forward in the quantities they need."

Privately, Marines in the field joked that the Army is acting like the Air Force - worrying more about hot rations and showers than ammunition and fuel.

"They’ll want air conditioning next," one Marine said, laughing.

Such jokes are common among the military branches, usually with Marines being categorized as the dumbest. This time, Marines here say they are the smart ones.

Though no one here can speak for the Army’s woes, the Marines say they haven’t had any real supply problems. They’ve got gas, if not showers.

"That’s not to say had we pushed a greater distance we would not have experienced the same problems," Hymes said.

Contrary to some reports, the slow down here is not because Saddam Hussein’s forces are winning, he said.

"Not at all," Hymes said. "So far, we’ve been able to influence and go and do what we want to do and be where we want to be when we want to be there. This is just a pause to let the supplies get to where we can use them."