Operation Desert Storm:

Transportation and Distribution of Equipment and Supplies in Southwest Asia

NSIAD-92-20: Published: Dec 26, 1991. Publicly Released: Dec 26, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) capabilities to distribute equipment and supplies during Operation Desert Storm.

GAO found that: (1) the accessibility of Saudi Arabian seaport and airport facilities allowed the U.S. military to unload and move enormous quantities of equipment and supplies without delay; (2) between August 1990 and March 1991, U.S. personnel unloaded 576 ships and 10,002 aircraft, handling approximately 4 million short tons of equipment and supplies and 7 million gallons of fuel; (3) military officials stated that the lack of trained personnel to operate material-handling equipment was the main restraining factor at the seaports; (4) as the quantity of incoming equipment and supplies increased, U.S. forces depended on host nation and coalition support to sustain port operations; (5) during the initial deployment phase, the Army and Marine Corps had limited capability to store and retrieve equipment and supplies because combat troops and equipment arrived before support units; (6) when logistics support units arrived in the theatre in November 1990, the supply system graduated from a push to a sustainment phase; (7) the Air Force established and implemented an in-theater air transportation system to meet the U.S. forces' airlift requirements; (8) the Army could not fulfill its role as the designated theater manager for surface transportation because it lacked the transportation assets to meet its own requirements; and (9) during Operation Desert Storm, there were no notable instances of theft or diversion at ports of entry, in warehouses, or during the surface transportation of equipment and supplies.