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599th move 25th Infantry Division to Southwest Asia.

In the biggest unit movement of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) since World War II, the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command has begun moving the Army unit to Southwest Asia.

The load out of nearly 2,000 pieces of war fighting vehicles and containers Dec. 14-18, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, will support about 4,500 "Tropic Lightening" Soldiers in Iraq. The loading took place aboard the Military Sealift Command vessel USNS Pililaau.

In February, the 599th moved the equipment of another 3,500 Soldiers bound for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

As the 599th moves the cargo, the Schofield Barracks-based group is transforming the process for deploying military equipment and cargo.

The Iraqi move was the first time in SDDC's history a real-time vessel load out was conducted with 100 percent in-transit and total asset visibility of deploying surface cargo from the fort to the in-theater tactical assembly area, said Col. Tom Harvey, 599th commander.

"Our priority is to support the deploying brigade from the barracks to the tactical assembly area in Southwest Asia and from the division transportation office to unit level," said Harvey.

"We are incorporating and merging multiple automated systems in conjunction with deployment operations for the first time."

The use of composite support teams in merging the multiple automated systems was critical, said Harvey.

Preparation for the move began in October. Resource managers, logisticians, personnel specialists, and information management technicians who had never donned a hard hat volunteered to work the deployment. The group's members were cross-trained in joint inspection, blocking and bracing, hazardous material, scanner operations, cargo preparation/documentation and pallet building.

Additional help came from the Army Reserve's 1394th Deployment Support Brigade, of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

One of the first to volunteer to assist in the deployment process was Zeny Arengo, whose regular duties include man aging group funds and personnel actions.

"I jumped at the opportunity to learn about what our operations folks are doing," said Arengo.

As the prepositioning of the cargo began in early December, the group had eight composite teams ready to support the division's Soldiers.

Arengo's experience provides a slice of that support.

"We were all over the place--conducting pre-inspections of vehicles at the units to make sure everything was properly secured before they headed for the alert holding area, said Arengo. "Days later, we worked at the staging area recording arrival of rolling stock and cargo at Ford Island."

Arengo worked 12-hour shifts in the vessels crammed compartments to scan data into the Worldwide Port System.

The success of the transformation process was achieved with the integration of SDDC's Reserve Component Unit Mobility Team, led by Capt. Greco Carrerras, and the 1394th Deployment Support Brigade, led by Maj. Bill Enos.

"Our folks were at the unit level and in the motor pool to help assist with all facets of deployment preparation and execution," said Lt. Col. James Hall, 599th chief of operations. "We were on hand at each station in the process to identify and correct any deviations or discrepancies in cargo preparation and to ensure that equipment complied with the SDDC standard for sealift."

The Integrated Computerized Deployment System was used to develop the prestow plan and synchronize equipment movement from the units to the staging area by order of uploading vessel compartments.

"Using the computerized stow planning capability is nothing new," said Hall, "however, the space management features were incorporated to assist in designing the 25th's deployment processing, convoy assembly, and port holding areas by zones that corresponded to the vessel load plan.

"The system was also used to load the Pililaau's cargo in a prioritized manner."

In addition, all cargo was identified with radio frequency tags. This was the division's first deployment using tags for in-transit visibility.

"Our folks worked hand-in-hand with brigade Soldiers to tag 100 percent of the deploying rolling stock and cargo containers," said Hall.

The tags were read by interrogators along the deployment route and at the port. The interrogators provided the date, time, and location of individual cargo and transmitted the information to a centralized server to allow for in-transit visibility.

"With the Worldwide Port System you're working primarily with fort to port in-transit visibility," said Blair Perkins, an engineer with Unisys Radio Frequency Identification.

"With radio frequency in-transit visibility, you're going across the fort all the way to a tactical assembly area, with fixed interrogators throughout the deployment pipeline, down to the point where the vehicle ends up released to their operational mission."

To provide the 25th Infantry leadership with more than information on cargo movement, the 599th developed an end-to-end common operating picture report using radio frequency identification data.

"The report gives the commander visibility of combat capability as it moves throughout the deployment pipeline," said Hall.

"The possibility of eliminating the bulk of scanning that takes place by port personnel as the equipment is brought into the staging area of the port is being looked at here," said Perkins.

The SDDC effort received praise.

"The 599th is doing a great job for us," said Maj. Gen. Eric Olsen, 25th Infantry commanding general. "I feel very confident in their abilities to make our deployment a success."

Story and photos by Terri Kojima Command Affairs Officer, 599th Transportation Group
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Title Annotation:Deployment process transformed
Author:Kojima, Terri
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:Combat vehicles shipped to the new Afghanistan Army.
Next Article:USNS Pililaau visits namesakes' home.

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