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Expeditionary logistics in its truest form.

Along the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 5) near the Las Pulgas Road entrance to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton sits a dusty field and a bare beach. Sites like these can be found around the globe in all regions of strategic importance to the United States military.

However, a few short months ago this barren, open plain and lonely stretch of beach was crowded with over 2,700 military personnel, hundreds of vehicles and dozens of watercraft conducting Exercise Pacific Strike 2008.

Pacific Strike was the annual U.S. Transportation Command sponsored Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore (JLOTS) exercise. It was carried out at Camp Pendleton, Calif., from June 15 to August 15, 2008.

The Joint Task Force Commander was Maj. Gen. Raymond Mason, Commanding Officer of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command from Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The JLOTS Commander was Capt. Thomas Wetherald, Commander Naval Beach Group ONE, Coronado, Calif., and the Reception Staging and Onward (RSO) movement Commander was Col. Clay Hatcher, Commanding Officer, 45th Sustainment Brigade from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

JLOTS is a key enabler to many Combatant Commander Operations Plans (OPLANS), and allows a heavy force to be moved from ship-to-shore without the benefit of a modern deep water port. Recent military operations (Desert Storm, OIF), while using some tenets of Logistics Over-The-Shore (LOTS), have been atypical in that a large modern port in Kuwait was available for use to offload the bulk of the heavy equipment and supplies. However, during World War II and the Korean War numerous invasions needed to be supported from ship to shore including the Normandy Invasion and General MacArthur's bold assault on Inchon.

In planning for both military and humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) missions around the world, JLOTS enables commanders to mass combat power from the sea in regions where there is no suitable deep water port or where the port has been rendered unusable. The strategic flexibility JLOTS offers is critical to keeping adversaries off balance as they attempt to anticipate U.S. military operations planning. Unfortunately, the lack of recent military necessity to utilize JLOTS coupled with budget cuts that have hampered JLOTS training exercises has limited the exposure of such a critical warfighting skill set to many in the Army and Navy. This article is my attempt to fill in some of those knowledge gaps.

Moving nearly 1,000 vehicles and 250 containers, Pacific Strike 2008 was the largest JLOTS ever conducted during peace time under non-combat conditions. The mission was to move the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) of the 25th Infantry Division from ship to shore and onward to Fort Irwin's National Training Center for pre-deployment training before heading to Iraq.

Unlike most exercises, JLOTS 2008 had a real deadline with repercussions if the offload did not go smoothly. JLOTS planning began in earnest in October 2007 with leaders mapping out command and control nodes, deconflicting timelines and ensuring adequate force flow to accomplish the mission.

Pacific Strike included all of the JLOTS technology available to support ship to shore movement. This family of systems includes: the legacy Offshore Petroleum Discharge System (OPDS), the Elevated Causeway System (Modular) (ELCAS(M)), Army Trident Pier, Army and Navy Roll On/Roll Off Discharge Facilities (RRDF), Floating Causeway/Admin. Pier, conventional beach operations and a large scale tent camp or Life Support Area (LSA).

In addition, four vessels from the Military Sealift Command were activated for use in this exercise: the SS Cape Mohican carried Amphibious Construction Battalion ONE lighterage from San Diego to Camp Pendleton, the Large, Medium Speed, Roll On/Roll Off (LMSR) USNS Pililaau was used to move the 3rd IBCT of the 25th Infantry Division from Hawaii to Camp Pendleton, the SS Chesapeake was the OPDS tanker and the Auxiliary Crane Ship (TAC-S) SS Flickertail State carried the ELCAS(M) pier components and Army lighterage from Norfolk, Va., to Camp Pendleton.

Finally, a host of smaller logistics watercraft essential to moving the cargo from ship to shore including legacy Army and Navy lighterage, the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS), Army and Navy Landing Craft Utility (LCU's), Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC) amphibians, tugs, utility boats and a large Logistics Support Vessel (LSV).

First into the field were the Seabees of Amphibious Construction Battalion ONE. Starting from pop tents with Meals Ready to Eat and water for sustenance they began construction of the tent camp that would eventually house 2,700 soldiers and sailors with a full range of life support.

The LSA included dozens of command and control tents, a 700-seat galley, barbershop, laundry, showers, MWR facility, movie tent, gym, chapel and over 250 berthing tents. Again, this was an expeditionary support area. No life support facilities existed prior to the exercise and the field was empty again at the conclusion of the exercise. This is unlike many of our experiences from camps in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan; there were no contractor operated facilities, no commercial vendors doing laundry, no third country nationals working in the galley. The entire operation was planned and executed by soldiers and sailors.


I served as the J-4 for the JLOTS Commander for Exercise Pacific Strike. As the J-4, I was the Principal Assistant for Logistics. I was responsible for all aspects of life support (galley, laundry, barber, tents, cots, tables, chairs), contracting for services (port-a-johns, trash, recycling, grey water removal, rental vehicles), material (logistics yard, freight routing, priority 03 ordering, government purchase card), fuel, mail handling, coordination of transportation via commercial bus to/from the aerial port of debarkation and budget. The exercise budget was nearly $21 million, using funds from the Army and Navy. Over $2.5 million was spent on life support alone. During the peak period of operations, I had nearly 100 Army and Navy personnel working for me to support over 2,700 camp residents. Operations continued 24/7 to support the offload. The J-4 organization was fully integrated with Army and Navy leadership active/reserve in place throughout. A simple but illustrative example was all cooks regardless of service wore brown t-shirts and all food service attendants wore green. These t-shirts told all who came to work in the J-4 organization that our mission was to support the Joint force to the best of our ability, regardless of our service affiliation.


With tent camp construction underway, much of the required lighterage and heavy equipment to support JLOTS began arriving by sea. The SS Cape Mohican allows fully loaded INLS and NL causeway sections to be driven onto a large elevator on the stern and rolled onto rails on three decks. This float on/float off (FLO/FLO) technology allows for quick assembly of sections into causeway ferries for transit through the surf zone onto the beach for cargo discharge. This capability is one of the key enablers of JLOTS.

The arrival of the SS Chesapeake and the OPDS system brought another key ingredient to logistics planning into play: fuel. OPDS allows the pumping of 1.2 million gallons per day of fuel from sea to shore. This fuel is pumped via underwater flexible pipelines or conduit to a beach termination unit. From there the fuel is moved over land to large, collapsible storage tanks set up and operated by soldiers or Marines.

The next components of the JLOTS system to arrive were the ELCAS(M) and the Army Trident Pier. These came via SS Flickertail State and rail, respectively, from Norfolk, Va.

The ELCAS(M) is a truly amazing piece of engineering. Seabees use heavy construction equipment and cranes to build a steel pier from eight feet by 40 feet pontoon sections and steel pilings from the beach into the ocean. ELCAS(M) can be built out to 3,000 feet to ensure it passes safely through the surf zone. The head of the ELCAS pier contains two 200-ton cranes that allow for cargo offload. The pier roadway is 24 feet wide, allowing for two lane truck traffic. In calm conditions the ELCAS(M) system can move over 370 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo during 24/7 operations.


The Army Trident Pier is constructed of non-powered pontoon sections that are driven onto the beach by a flotilla of modular warping tugs. The pier extends from the beach through the surf zone and allows for Army and some Navy watercraft to unload rolling stock. While a capable piece of equipment, the fact that it floats on the water left it susceptible to surf damage. Thus, before it was even used during JLOTS 2008 the Pacific Ocean damaged the platform and it was not a factor in completing the mission.

The final pieces of the JLOTS mission set were the RRDF platforms. These large floating platforms are assembled from non-powered causeway sections and towed into place by warping tugs alongside the vessels to be offloaded. Large ramps are lowered from the Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships onto the RRDF platforms and rolling stock is moved from the ship, down the ramp, onto the RRDF and then driven onto causeway ferries for transport to a beach, the ELCAS(M) pier head or the Trident Pier. When the USNS Pililaau arrived, both the Army and Navy placed RRDFs alongside. The Army RRDF was on the port side and the Navy RRDF astern. The RRDFs allow for a much more efficient rate of cargo transfer than lift on/lift off or LO/LO via cranes.

As the warfighting equipment of the 25th Infantry Division was brought ashore it was handed over to the Reception, Staging and Onward movement (RSO) Task Force assembled on the beach. The 45th Sustainment Brigade soldiers loaded equipment and rolling stock onto a large number of Army and commercial trucks for the trip to Fort Irwin.

Other units playing a role in Pacific Strike were Navy Cargo Handling

Battalion personnel who operated the cranes onboard the Flickertail State and the Pililaau. Seaward security was provided by Maritime Expeditionary Security Force Boat Detachments.

Finally, there was a large presence of reserve force personnel on both the Army and Navy sides of this operation. Many key units were solely comprised of reservists. Other active forces relied on reservists to round out their manning to enable sustained 24-hour operations. JLOTS demonstrated the Total Force concept envisioned within the U.S. Navy.

JLOTS 2008 was a huge success. The 3rd Brigade's equipment was delivered to Fort Irwin ahead of schedule, the operation was completed safely and all forces were retrograded home. Pacific Strike validated to PACOM, TRANSCOM and USARPAC that the Army-Navy team of JLOTS professionals can move a heavy force from ship to shore anywhere in the world to support both combat and humanitarian missions.


Joint Publication 4.01-6 Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) provides detailed information on this operation.


CDR (Sel) Richard A. Paquette SC, USN, Director of Contracts FISC Jacksonville

CDR (Sel) Richard A. Paquette's previous operational tours include Supply Officer Amphibious Construction Battalion ONE, Supply Officer USS Tucson (SSN770) and Disbursing Officer USS Frederick (LST 1184).
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Author:Paquette, Richard A.
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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