Altogether, it weighs more than 700 tons and is affectionately known as "MOAG," or the "Mother of All Generators. " The gigantic, German-built...

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OUTSIDE KIRKUK, Iraq — Altogether, it weighs more than 700 tons and is affectionately known as “MOAG,” or the “Mother of All Generators.”

The gigantic, German-built piece of machinery required a U.S. military escort to reach its new home: A U.S.-financed electrical power plant going up outside Kirkuk, an oil center in northern Iraq.

In what U.S. officials describe as one of the most logistically complex operations of the Iraqi reconstruction effort, the 260-megawatt combustion-turbine generator was transported 640 miles — including a 240-mile detour around a destroyed bridge — from the Jordanian border through Anbar province, a vast western region that is a hotbed of the anti-American insurgency.

Planning for the trip started in September and was kept secret. The huge generator set out in a 30-vehicle convoy March 21, officials said. Moving at 5 mph, it reached its destination April 2.

On its journey, the convoy was protected by armored personnel carriers, Humvees, engineering equipment and helicopters, officials said. At any one time, about 250 to 300 U.S. military personnel were involved in supporting the generator’s passage.

“It did require a lot of coordination,” said John Pennell, deputy director of the infrastructure office of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “Security was definitely a concern.”

USAID is overseeing the $178 million project to construct the power plant, which will generate 325 megawatts of power.

The U.S. agency invited reporters to visit the plant, which is not yet fully completed but asked them not to publicize its exact location because of security concerns. Infrastructure projects have been a favored target of insurgents.

The V94 generator, built by Siemens, the German industrial conglomerate, is scheduled to come online in mid-September. It will put 260 megawatts into Iraq’s power-starved electrical grid, increasing the power available by about 6 percent, based on the grid’s current generation levels.

A smaller generator at the site fired up in January already is providing 65 megawatts. Both generators are fueled by natural gas piped in from nearby oil fields.