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Biggest since World War II: SDDC completes record global movements.

In coming weeks, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command will complete the largest equipment movements in its 30-year history.

Over 330 vessel actions have been conducted by SDDC that have shifted Soldiers and Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. These are the biggest shipments the Department of Defense has had since World War II.

"We have moved the equipment from eight of nine Army divisions in support of these operations," said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Deputy Commanding General/Director of Operations.

Moving that equipment by surface rather than by air results in significant cost savings to the taxpayer, Scheid pointed out.

"We ship as much cargo as possible by surface" he said. "It costs about 10 times less than shipping by air, so through deliberate planning and synchronizing, we can get it to the right place at the right time and do it much cheaper."

Much of the cargos going to Operation Iraqi Freedom went to the port of Ash Shuaiba, Kuwait. The installation handled a record four Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-Off vessels and one Fast Sealift Ship on March 2.

"The Kuwaiti's work with us extremely well on adjusting pier space for us," said Scheid. "This is just one example of the support they provide."

The scope of the operation amazes the Soldiers and civilians who synchronized it.

Dave Waers is a lead traffic management specialist at the SDDC Operations Center.

Waers and his team manage deployment operations in the European and Central Command areas of responsibility.

He credits interservice cooperation as being the key to successful operations.

"Within the Army, too, there was total involvement" he added. "The active-duty, Reserve and National Guard, civil service and contract employees all worked together to accomplish the mission."

Such cooperation also was vital at the ports, said Lt. Col. Arthur Hedgepeth, commander, 1192nd Transportation Terminal Brigade, New Orleans.

Since the 1192nd mobilized in January 2003, its members have conducted operations at 15 U.S. ports, working more than 180 vessel loads and moving 22 million square feet of cargo.

Hedgepeth said he is proud of his Soldiers' commitment to duty.

"At the end of a year, 110 of 115 Soldiers in the unit volunteered to stay on active duty for another year," said Hedgepeth. "At the end of that year, we had almost 80 Soldiers who volunteered to stay on an extra six months."

The statistics of the equipment moved are impressive. Since December 2002, SDDC moved nearly 59,000 containers of sustainment in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Laid end-to-end, the containers would stretch from Washington, D.C., to New York.

While continuing to sustain Soldiers, SDDC supported transitioning units.

Typically, SDDC brought the equipment of a replacement unit to Kuwait for movement to Iraq. After a short transition period, the equipment of the redeploying military unit would reverse the process.

Commercial ships were essential in the moves, said Scheid, as well as other carriers.

Through June 15, CSX Transportation, Inc., of Jacksonville, Fla., has moved 7,180 flatcars of equipment for SDDC this year, said Jon Meyer, senior account manager.

The railroad moved a comparable figure of flatcars in the same period in 2003, said Meyer.

Another industry contributor was American Roll On/Roll Off Carrier LLC, of Montvale, N.J.

"We provided two vessels for charter to the Military Sealift Command--the Resolve and the Independence" said Jim Wells, executive vice president and chief executive officer.

"The Resolve was chartered for 120 days and the Independence was chartered for 60 days."

In addition, the firm maintained 10day sailings to Europe every 10 days from the East Coast as part of Universal Service Contract 04.

The movements spawned some dramatic stories.

The 25th Infantry Division, in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was originally tasked to go to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then new orders came down from the Army. The division would supply two task forces: one to Operation Iraqi Freedom and a second to Operation Enduring Freedom.

The equipment was moved by the USNS Pililaau, a Navy ship of the Military Sealift Command named for a Hawaiian man who was a Medal of Honor winner in the Korean War.

The Pililaau departed from Hawaii in December with the 25th Infantry Division task force for Iraq.

Sixty days later Pililaau was back, to move a second 25th Infantry Division task force to Afghanistan.

Or take the 842nd Transportation Battalion, at Beaumont Texas. The unit was heavily engaged in Beaumont and Corpus Christi, Texas, with equipment movements to and from the Gulf Coast ports.

Shipments to and from the ports were "non-stop" for six months, said Fran Willis. distribution manager.

In the first 24 days of May, Team Beaumont worked 11 different ships at the port, she said. Eleven vessels were offloaded and one was reloaded with new cargo.

"We moved 2,200 pieces of equipment from May 3-10," said Willis. "That was our surge.

SDDC will get a short summer pause. Shipments for Operation Iraqi Freedom III begin in September.

John Randt, Director, Command Affairs, SDDC HQ Alexandria & Patti Belling, Public Affairs Specialist, SDDC Operations Center
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Title Annotation:Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:Bielling, Patti
Publication:Translog
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Words:850
Previous Article:Commanding General bids SDDC a fond farewell.
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