US Mission Iraq: Salad Bar Kerfuffle Due to 90% Drop in Daily Food Convoy Caused by “Regulatory Impediments”

Back in February, amidst the reported salad bar kerfuffle at the US Embassy in Baghdad, we asked a few questions, which obviously did not get any answer, good or bad (read Stop “whining” about the salad bar to the NYT, it’s “inappropriate”):

Did State anticipate that crossing the borders now manned by Iraqis would be messy? Did they anticipate that the Iraqis would want to approve/deny entry of supply convoys but that the government may have no process in place, but will never admit it?  Did State anticipate the multiple layers of bureaucracy required to approve entry of frozen chicken wings, and salad bar weeds trucked in from Kuwait? Is there a new SOP on what to do if the Iraqi guards do on chay break the rest of the day while supply trucks gets barbequed under the sun?

A U.S. Air Force airmen from the 70th Medium Truck Detachment lead a convoy through Iraq with a load of equipment and supplies Oct. 30, 2011. With less than five miles left before crossing the Iraqi border, the convoy of 43 vehicles traveled 1,100 miles in 7 days, hauling equipment out of the country as part of an effort to meet the deadline for the U.S. military to transition out of Iraq.
Photo by Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen

Now we know why they had no green weeds and went rationing the chicken wings. According to SIGIR:

“Earlier in the quarter, senior Embassy officials spent a significant amount of time working with the GOI to expedite the entry of U.S. food convoys from the Safwan border crossing, which lies just north of Kuwait. Reportedly, the number of trucks that entered Iraq through that crossing dropped for a time from 400–600 per day down to about 60 because of regulatory impediments imposed by the Ministry of Transportation.”

While the “impediments” imposed by the Iraqi Government hardly surprised us, we were quite stumped by the number of trucks running the food convoys.  Please note that we’re not saying our folks should not be feed.  It’s us — we just can’t begin to  imagine a hundred trucks end to end in a convoy, much more 600.  Every day.

Everything that has to do with our continuing project in Iraq is super-sized: the embassy is a giganotosaurus, the embassy staffing is over the top (no matter the “right-sizing”), the front office has one ambassador plus 5-6 assistant ambassadors, there are 350 police trainers, no 190, 100, 50, oh, who knows?

So 8,070 feet of food trucks lined up end to end should be a normal sight, considering the location, right?  Not that anyone would put them end to end, that would be much too tempting for the fireball guys. Except when the trucks are stuck end to end at the border crossing.

The report did not say if the “impediments” have been removed, or what other food sourcing options (MREs excepted) have been planned or implemented.

Domani Spero

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2 responses

  1. Twenty-two years ago, it took us four days to get a five-ton truck of food into Iraq. Four days, three requests to enter with a truck full of lettuce, soda, milk, banana, canned food, and Thanksgiving turkeys. (We needed a nap after the second effort.) Third time was the charm. Why does it not surprise me that there are still bureaucratic hurdles to bringing the bacon home to Iraq.

    • I think it’s called residual resentment in some quarters or just simple pay back. If we were to reverse the Iraq scenario, I don’t think we would be so accommodating to the invading forces if we were in Iraq’s shoes either. Even after the foreign troops leave, even after reconstruction; I don’t think we would be so forgiving for all that’s broken and irreparable even when we’re now dealing with diplomats.