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Deployment and Distribution Operations Center: SDDC partners in end to end distribution to Iraq warfighters.

Warfighters in Iraq are getting their shipments more quickly and efficiently because of the innovative U.S. Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center.

The National Partners-U.S. Transportation Command, Defense Logistics Agency, Army Material Command, and Joint Forces Command-recently all agreed to stand up a joint team of expert logisticians from their own organizations in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The goal is to merge transportation and logistics actions at a strategic level in support of warfighters on the ground. The team is composed of military, civilian and contractor representatives from the National Partners and additional logistics experts from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The Surface Deployment and Distribution Command plays a key role in the jointly manned center by contributing transportation professionals to its Surface Cell.

"The stand-up of the Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center is the most significant change in military logistics I have seen in my career," said Maj. Gen. Ann Dunwoody, Commander. "From a strategic perspective, the center allows the warfighter to be continuously connected to the logistics pipeline.

"Tactically, the Deployment and Distribution Operations Center can synchronize the flow of forces, equipment and sustainment into the theater. Operationally, the logistician is connected to theater logisticians so movement priorities can execute in real time. This operation is transforming logistics for this and future," said Dunwoody.

The integration of Surface Deployment and the center is going well, said Capt. William Curtis, a U.S. Navy officer who serves as SDDC's chief of Global Distribution.

"Our personnel there are the functional surface deployment and distribution experts on the ground," said Curtis. "They are a single button, a single place to go for help, and it works very well."

SDDC participation in the center began in mid-January with the center's creation. Currently, six SDDC staffers--five military and one civilian--have deployed as part of a 120-day pilot program.

"They have a direct link to us here at Fort Eustis," Curtis said. "They are all volunteers--they want to see how their contributions are helping on the other end of the deployment and distribution process."

The center works under the tactical command of U.S. Central Command's director of logistics. The center's end-to-end distribution mission is directly related to Transportation Command's new role as the Department of Defense's Distribution Process Owner.

Center staffers identify and manage all of the movement requirements in-and-out of the theater. The movements range from shiploads of equipment to sustainment supplies from organizations such as the Defense Logistics Agency, the General Services Administration and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

Deployment and Distribution Operations Center's single-source of strategic coordination makes it easy for warfighters to track shipments. Conversely, with all movement information immediately available, center staffers are able to make timely and pragmatic decisions on all aspects of transportation.

"It is a remarkable achievement," said Col. Rodney Mallette, SDDC Chief of Staff, who recently worked a short tour at the center.

"It is a highly motivated bunch," said Mallette. "They develop transportation solutions a half-a-world away--in a combat theater."

The center's uniqueness, said Mallette, is deploying an integrated capability of Transportation Command transportation and information management specialists, Defense Logistics Agency supply specialists, along with the military services' functional and operations specialists.

"The center is a complete package of capability with the ability to expand and contract with the flow of logistics and a direct link back to their parent command," said Mallette. "No longer will the warfighter have to manage incoming, outgoing and in-theater movements of material and personnel single-handedly.

"Looking at the future, we can see logisticians deploy alongside warfighters to deliver combat and sustainment capability. Serving there has been one of the highlights of my career."

SDDC's staffers in the Surface Cell include Master Sgt. Eleanor Jacobs, Maj. Scott Sadler and Margaret Sitts.

The three take great pride in their roles in the center.

"The talent, the knowledge, of the people here is just amazing," Jacobs said. "Because of their expertise, we were able to hit the ground running."

One early focus of the center was improving communication among distribution centers, air and seaports and other transportation nodes.

"That's important because port operators who understand a distribution center's ability to receive cargo can then improve their port's ability to clear cargo," Sadler explained.

The Surface Cell also has been working to increase asset visibility by developing or improving various Web-based systems.

Sitts, the onward-movements manager for the Surface Cell, works contract issues to facilitate the movement of cargo between Southwest Asia and the United States and Europe.

She cited one new process that has resulted in a $7 million savings per month in shipping costs.

"Equipment needing repair was originally being shipped by air to the United States or Germany," she said. "We were able to put the contracts and the process in place to move equipment by surface-which costs over 50 percent less."

She added that working in the center has had a profound impact on her personally and professionally.

"Everybody who works for the Department of Defense needs to come and see what life is like here and meet the soldiers associated with the decisions they are making and the things they are doing," she said.

The three are representative of the dedicated staffers in the center, said Army Brig. Gen. John Levasseur, of the Defense Logistics Agency, Fort Belvoir, Va., a former director of the center.

Levasseur has praised his staffers for their work supporting Transportation Command's Distribution Process Owner role.

To reduce demands on air transport, center staffers rerouted the movement of pallets of critical supplies by ground transport to a distribution center in Iraq, while still meeting the required delivery date.

"We diverted more than 800 pallets ... thereby keeping the cargo moving and minimizing the customer wait time," said Levasseur.

In another initiative called Task Force Express, Levasseur said Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center team members have analyzed segments of the theater distribution process in specific areas with objective of increasing supply velocity into the theater and to the warfighters. This has provided theater logisticians and commanders with greater advance notice of inbound freight to complement their planning efforts for transportation and distribution.

"The true strength of the Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center is its people," said Levasseur. "It's a natural purple organization--it's truly a Joint Team.

"Each individual brings their background and service knowledge, but a key to the center is its reach back capability to influence the strategic flow to meet the warfighter needs."

The team of 65 people is co-located in close quarters on Camp Arifjan with the 3rd Army's Logistical Command Center. The center's ability to staff a strategic joint issue and link it to the operations execution mechanism is done in a fraction of the time it would take to have the action staffed back in the Continental United States, said Levasseur.

The work benefits both individual transporters and logisticians and their agencies. Individuals learn how to interact with other services and dealing with warfighter needs. The sponsoring organizations get back logisticians who now have "real world joint experience."

Dunwoody, SDDC's Commander. takes great pride in the work of her deployment and distribution experts working at the center in Kuwait.

"The work of the center and our people has been absolutely amazing," said Dunwoody. "They are doing a tremendous job.

"When issues come up, the center's team of experts using their 'purple' hats and expertise develop a solution quickly.

"The end game is that warfighters have greater visibility on their distribution pipeline" said Dunwoody. "They get their needed materials quicker and--throughout the system--there are less duplicate requisitions which are wasteful and tie-up our critical air and sea lift."

The center now operates under the guidance of Central Command's J-4, supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom, Coalition Forces Land Component Command, Multi-National Command Iraq, Operations Enduring Freedom Combined Joint Task Force-76, and the in the Horn of Africa. The work is just a starting point for a joint conceptual point of transporters and logisticians.

Planning is now underway to develop Deployment and Distribution Operations Centers to support U.S. European Command and U.S Pacific Command to include Korea.

John Randt, Director, Command Affairs, SDDC HQ Alexandria & Patti Bielling, Public Affairs Specialist, SDDC Operations Center
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Title Annotation:Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:Bielling, Patti
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2004
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