Soldiers open key travel route to Iraqi public
June 8, 2009
CONVOY SUPPORT CENTER SCANIA, Iraq -- Coalition forces opened two lanes of traffic along Main Supply Route Tampa for use by Iraqi travelers during a ribbon-cutting ceremony here Monday.
This move comes as more security responsibilities are handed back to Iraq as a part of the 2009 Security Agreement, which calls for coalition forces to provide a greater share of the road to the Iraqi people.
Dozens of people from various agencies came to commemorate the event to include: U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher R. Hill; Gov. Salman Al Zargany, governor of Babil Province; U.S. Gen. David Elicero, Multinational Division South deputy commanding general for operations; Maj. Gen. Fadil Raddad, director general of Babil Iraqi Police; members of Iraqi Press and Soldiers who supported the mission.
"We stand on a route where people have traveled ... for thousands of years," said Hill. "This has been one of the main routes from the fertile crescent down to the sea."
Hill talked about how the last five years were difficult for both Iraqi and coalition forces, but it is important to recognize progress.
"When we have a moment like this, a moment where we can mark important progress, we should stop and think about those difficult times and think about how we are going to make a better future," Hill said. "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 CSC Scania from insurgent threats, forcing locals 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 was a major challenge in the way business was conducted by the 37th Movement Control Team, a U.S. Air Force unit augmenting the U.S. Army 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) 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," said Air Force 1st Lt. Hannah N. Grewatz, 37th MTC commander and native of Arlington, Texas. "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."
Previously, the MSR was holding about 1,200 vehicles before the T-walls were moved. They lost about 400 parking spots due to the reconstruction.
"We were getting 600 to 800 vehicles per night, and now we can only take 300-400 due to the construction," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Corwin Stone, a shift leader with the 37th MCT. "It was difficult to get convoys in, refueled and parked."
Stone said that they improved on pre-planning convoy arrivals and learned how to stage vehicles on the MSR with limited space.
"You don't know when each convoy is coming in, so 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."
CSC Scania is south of Baghdad, outside of city limits, and will continue to serve as a logistical support center.
The re-design of the CSC Scania and the opening of part of the roadway is a result of the CF commitment to the S.A.