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Container detention cost at all-time low.

Delivering needed supplies via container to the warfighter is a critical mission of SDDC. Tracking the containers in which these supplies are shipped to the front line is a challenge for both the warfighter and those who manage them at SDDC.

"Whether they are the old variety or the new, the soldier is in need of the container on the battlefield as much today as in the past," said Robert Friedman, SDDC Container Management Office.

However, it wasn't until the Gulf War that this increasing use of containers was having a far reaching effect on transportation expenditures, and USTRANSCOM was directed to take over the role as the Distribution Process Owner for Container Management.


Since then, the handling, tracking, monitoring and maintenance of general cargo containers in the Department of Defense has undergone many changes.

In August 2004, SDDC began serving as the Central Command Theater Container Manager and initiated efforts to develop systems to manage and report on container activities in the CENTCOM theater of operations.

The latest effort combines the resources of the Army's Intermodal Distribution Platform Office (AIDPMO) with SDDC's Container Management Office. This merger, together with the development of an SDDC-managed Army Reserve element, dramatically increased the assets responsible for the management of this global DoD general cargo fleet.

"From the high in December 2004 of $16.2 million estimated detention to the current low in October 2008 of $795 thousand, carrier detention has been a significant expense of the Global War on Terror," said Col. Kenneth Shannon, SDDC's director, Container Management Office. "SDDC's impact on reducing these costs in conjunction with CENTCOM was to initiate a Container Management Element (CME) comprised of 50 Reserve personnel to provide management efforts."


According to Shannon, by December 2005, detention had been reduced to $7.8 million per month, and it has been reduced each year since. In October 2008, the end-of-month estimated detention fell to below $800 thousand, the first month that estimated detention has been reduced to below the $1 million level.

"This is in no small part due to the efforts of all personnel in the theater and the hard work of the CME personnel supporting the operation," said Shannon.

The way ahead for further reductions in detention and other container expenses was further solidified on Oct. 1, 2008, by the Army Material Command. AMC assigned the AIDPMO, located at Tobyhanna Army Depot, to SDDC.

"This action provides an opportunity to work coordinated actions on leasing, inventory and maintenance of containers to support the joint warfighter," said Shannon.

"Increased emphasis has also been placed on the utilization of various IT systems to assist in the reduction of detention," said Lt. Col. Ernesto Mora, SDDC Container Management Office. "Although the systems do not actually enter the data, they do provide a means to track the movements thru the various modes of transportation enroute to the final destination. This is where the human element plays the largest role, accounting for the container and its return in a timely manner to reduce detention."

Additionally, more than 80,000 ocean carrier and leased containers have been purchased by SDDC and AIDPMO which has resulted in a further reduction in daily detention and costs.

"There is still the need for continued emphasis by leaders at all levels on container management to continue the highest and best use of container assets," said Shannon.

By June M. Pagan

SDDC Command Affairs
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Author:Pagan, June M.
Date:Sep 22, 2008
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