War on Terrorism

Friday, June 05, 2009

Iraqi Public Gains Highway Access

American Forces Press Service

June 5, 2009 - Coalition forces opened two lanes of traffic along Main Supply Route Tampa for use by Iraqi travelers during a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 1. Dozens of people from various agencies came to commemorate the Event, including U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher R. Hill; Gov. Salman al-Zargany of Iraq's Babil province; Army Brig. Gen. David Elicerio, Multinational Division South deputy commander for operations; Maj. Gen. Fadil Raddad, director general of Babil's police; members of Iraqi media; and soldiers who supported the mission.

"We stand on a route where people have traveled ... for thousands of years," Hill said. "This has been one of the main routes from the Fertile Crescent down to the sea."

Acknowledging that the last five years were difficult for both Iraqi and coalition forces, he said it is important to recognize progress.

"When we have a moment like this, a moment where we can mark important progress," he said, "we should stop and think about those difficult times and think about how we are going to make a better future. Today, we are going to reattach a very important service: this beautiful highway, which will now go from Baghdad down to the sea."

Scania is the main refueling point for coalition convoys traveling north or south between Kuwait and anywhere north in theater.

The highway was blocked to local traffic early on in the war to protect Convoy Support Center Scania from insurgent threats, forcing the public to take a slow, bumpy dirt road around the facility. Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers and contractors moved T-walls into the highway's median, opening up the two southbound lanes to civilian traffic. This posed a major challenge for the 37th Movement Control Team, an Air Force unit augmenting the Army's 3rd Sustainment Command, to manage the flow of convoys coming and going from the truck stop.

"With the construction on the southbound lanes, we had to convert four lanes into two lanes," Air Force 1st Lt. Hannah N. Grewatz, 37th MTC commander, said. "The convoys going north and convoys going south both had to use the northbound lanes, which created more of a traffic issue than a parking issue."

Main Supply Route Tampa held about 1,200 vehicles before the T-walls were moved. The reconstruction necessitated the loss of about 400 parking spots.

"It was difficult to get convoys in, refueled and parked," Air Force Staff Sgt. Corwin Stone, a shift leader with the 37th MCT, said. To compensate, he added, the team improved on planning convoy arrivals and learned how to stage vehicles with limited space.

"You have multiple convoys waiting to come through, refuel and press on out," Stone said. "It was very hard at first, but we got it down."

Convoy Support Center Scania is south of Baghdad, outside of city limits, and will continue to serve as a logistical support center.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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