Military Logistics Services Iraq | Military Cargo Iraq 2011: As part of our ongoing series to take a closer look at the work Move One Logistics does on the advanced military base camps throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, we spoke to Cameron Marchand, Iraq Country Manager.
Formerly known as Al-Bakr Air Base, Camp Anaconda has been operating in one form or another for over forty years. Located in the Sunni triangle, 40 kilometers north of Baghdad, it is one of the largest US bases in Iraq. Celebrities are visiting the place, toured by politicians and assaulted by rebels, insurgents, and militants. So constant were the attacks, the resident service personnel came to dub the location ‘Mortar-it-ville’, but as stability returned to the region, the purpose and character of the sprawling base changed. Today, some sectors of the base seem to have more in common with small-town America than a site of some of the most ferocious fighting of the entire Iraq campaign.
The history of the base starts back in the mid-1960s when it served as a primary military airfield for the Iraqi air force. The base later reinforced with hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) by Yugoslavian forces in the mid-1980s, and occupied and renamed Balad Air Base and Logistics Support Area Anaconda by the US in 2003. Whilst the official name today is Joint Base Balad, in common usage and popular media the site is simply known as Camp Anaconda.
People arriving at Anaconda for the first time typically have difficulty adjusting to how huge the base really is. The base itself covers over 15 square miles and is home to 25,000 military service personnel and civilian contractors. Once chiefly a fortress is now the primary logistics hub for military operations in Iraq and a home away from home for all those serving on it. The facilities have come a long way from having a few HAS built and now boast a 24-hour gym, flood-lit basketball courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and even a decorated movie theatre. The camp features a 24-hour Burger King restaurant, a Pizza Hut, Popeye’s, Subway, Baskin-Robbins and a Starbucks too. The numerous mess halls on site will serve everything from baked salmon, roast turkey or grilled pork chops, depending on that day’s fresh menu.
Regardless of how well equipped Anaconda may be, it is still in the middle of hostile territory and all military personnel permanently equipped with helmet and armor, as are the civilians when threat levels elevate. Anaconda is sufficiently large that it internally publishes not one but two weekly newspapers, the Expeditionary Times and the Anaconda Times. It has its own airline, Catfish Air, and what is arguably the world’s most extreme miniature golf course, featuring barbed wire and sandbags.
Providing Military Logistics Services Iraq | Military Cargo Iraq
Move One Logistics first began operating freight services (military logistics services Iraq | military cargo Iraq) out of Camp Anaconda in early 2010, in order to support its ongoing logistics operations in Iraq and across the region. The base is home to extensive secure storage facilities to process inbound and outbound cargo before dispatch. The Move One office operates as a hub within a hub, receiving daily truck shipments and air cargo directly from Kuwait and around the world.
Cameron Marchand points out the necessity for a company like Move One Logistics to maintain an office on Camp Anaconda. “Although there are significant challenges intrinsic to conducting logistics operations in Iraq, employing Camp Anaconda as a strategic office location has allowed us to enormously increase the scale of our operations and refine our efficiency… It can be an unforgiving environment for the unprepared, both inside and outside the base’s perimeter. An intimate working knowledge of the protocols and bureaucratic channels is essential to get our trucks in and out of camp, but even then it can take up to 72 hours at times of heightened security.”
The days of Joint Base Balad is ending, as President Obama’s year-end deadline for American troop withdrawal approaches. Balad once housed over 30,000 personnel, but by the end of 2010, that number had dropped to 17,000, more than half of whom were civilian contractors. The Responsible Drawdown of Forces (RDOF) program has already closed 173 of the 260 military bases in Iraq.
History of Military Logistics Services Iraq | Military Cargo Iraq
Move One Logistics has been active in providing military logistics services Iraq and military cargo Iraq since 2003. With seven strategically located offices throughout the country (including facilities in Baghdad, Erbil, Balad, Camp Victory, Umm Qasr and Basra), the company has all the necessary resources and experience to handle even the most challenging logistical requirement in the region. Move One’s extensive local knowledge has helped build a successful track record in delivering everything from small shipments to heavy and over-sized cargo for customers in various business sectors, including military, diplomatic, oil and gas industry and civil reconstruction projects.
Move One Logistics staff have also been instrumental in the gradual drawdown of the base, preparing it for transition, and re-tasking the local supply networks to focus on international civilian logistics and reconstruction.