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From fort to foxhole: 838th transportation battalion keeps equipment moving.

The new concept of operations employed by the 838th Transportation Battalion helped smooth the deployment of more than 4,000 pieces of equipment in December at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.

The equipment from the 1st Armored Division and numerous separate battalions and companies was loaded on board military and commercial vessels as part of the final push of U.S. Army Europe forces supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom rotations 05-07.

The battalion's new procedures significantly decreased documentation and hazardous-material issues that needed to be resolved after cargo arrived at the commercial carrier's staging area.

The equipment arrived from Germany via barge and on more than 45 trains and 500 commercial trucks. Some of that equipment was deployed on the USNS Seay, a large, medium-speed, roll-on, roll-off vessel.

To preclude problems with unit cargo deploying via commercial carrier, all equipment and containers were first brought to a staging area controlled by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

Upon arrival of cargo, personnel from SDDC's 838th Transportation Battalion inspected vehicles and containers to verify dimensional data, inspect hazardous material, review documentation and load break-bulk cargo onto flat racks. Personnel from the 838th along with members of deploying units and surveyors from the commercial carrier, conducted a joint inspection of the cargo.

After passing the joint inspection, cargo was loaded on barges and taken on a four-hour sail from the SDDC staging area to commercial carrier's quay for subsequent receipt and loading aboard the carrier's vessel later in the week.

The deployment was a true team effort with personnel manning offices at the port from the Belgian Army, 21st Theater Support Command, Military Sealift Command, V Corps, the 623rd Movement Control Team, and liaison officers from all units.

The 838th Transportation Battalion provided office space for all Soldiers and civilians on Quay 1241 at the Port of Antwerp, with dining facilities and lodging provided by the 21st Theater Support Command. Soldiers and civilians from throughout the 838th Transportation Battalion augmented the team in Antwerp during high volume ship operations. This included personnel from the Rhine River Detachment, the 950th Transportation Company in Bremerhaven, Germany, and the 951st Transportation Company in Ipswich, United Kingdom.

The battalion was kept busy with concurrent cargo and ammunition operations in Poland, the Azores. Norway and throughout northern Europe.

Deployment support activities from 838th Transportation Battalion personnel extended beyond the Port of Antwerp. Soldiers, U.S. civilians and local-national employees deployed from their home stations in Mannheim and Bremerhaven, Germany, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and to assist deploying units in their own unit areas and designated predeployment staging area locations.

These deployment support personnel helped the deploying units with updating data in the Transportation Corps Automation Information Management System, stuffing containers and International airlift/helicopter Slingable container Units, and all aspects of cargo and hazardous material documentation.

Soldiers from SDDC's 1394th Deployment Support Brigade also contributed immeasurably in getting deploying units from fort to foxhole. Maj. Tim Pentaleri and his team were a critical link in the deployment process, and the 838th Transportation Battalion fully appreciated having their invaluable assistance in Germany for the OIF OEF 05-07 deployment.

The 838th Transportation Battalion will now turn its focus on cargo expected to redeploy from Southwest Asia back to Europe in the coming months. Although some OIF OEF 05-07 cargo will continue to deploy through the Port of Antwerp as part of the commercial carrier concept of operations, the battalion anticipates that the majority of the projected workload to be reception, staging and onward movement of redeployment cargo.

For cargo redeploying into Antwerp, the 838th Transportation will discharge the ships and also be responsible for loading the cargo onto the trains, trucks, and barges that will transport the equipment on the last leg of its journey from the Port of Antwerp back to home station.

MSC Controlled Vessels at Port of Antwerp, Belgium for OIF OEF 05-07 Deployment:

--MV Cape Douglas--USNS Seay--MV Northern Lights--Cape Trinity

Lt. Col. John Hanson 838th Trans Bn Commander
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Author:Hanson, John
Date:Jun 22, 2006
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