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Industry tips for preparing for pre-mobilization efforts.

Reserve Component Readiness

In accordance with the 2007 Secretary of Defense Reserve Component unit mobilization directive, post-mobilization training now is considered part of the 400-day mobilization period. This effectively reduces post-mobilization training from a 90- to 120-day period to just 60 days and places greater emphasis on pre-mobilization training. Pre-mobilization readiness (which traditionally consists of warrior training, weapons qualifications and gunnery, battle staff training, and maneuver training) now must accomplish a higher level of competency among the troops to offset the condensed post-mobilization timeline.

It falls to the state National Guard unit to ensure that its sons and daughters arrive at training camp ready for work. From a logistics point of view, this means that in addition to the soldiers, the Guard must ensure that the soldiers' sea bags and other personal items also arrive on time.

In 2010, 2,800 troops from Iowa will deploy to Afghanistan. In preparation for their pre-mobilization training, the Camp Dodge traffic management team of the Iowa National Guard coordinated the consolidation of cargo from the state's five armories; the cargo's transportation to Camp Shelby, Mississippi; and the planned backhaul to Iowa at the completion of training.

The move required 117 28-foot trailers. Trailers departed Iowa and arrived at Camp Shelby in a pre-determined sequence. The delivery window for all trailers was 18 days. Trailer staging was required at Camp Shelby to ensure ready access to dock facilities, timely unloading, and quick release of equipment. The consolidation and move were handled exclusively by national transportation provider YRC.

The operation was a success. The following commentary includes insights from the project with hopes that others might find value as they face pre-mobilization logistics operations of a similar scope.

PRE-PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL

As transportation and logistics professionals are well aware, the details associated with a move of this magnitude are significant. The size, scale, and compressed timing for the move dictated the need for precise planning and a crusted transportation partner.

The Camp Dodge traffic management team worked collaboratively with armory personnel and the transportation engineers from YRC. This enabled the team to create realistic logistics plans for each Iowa site as well as for activities at Camp Shelby.

The traffic management team anticipated that it would take each site a little over one week to process the personal and government-issued gear for its 500-plus soldiers. This planning guided the pickup scheduling in Iowa to ensure efficient spotting of equipment, as well as delivery precision at Camp Shelby during the time window when personnel would be stationed for unloading. To balance service requirements with financial stewardship, the traffic management team followed a just-in-time strategy.

CHANGES ARE INEVITABLE

Though the planning provided the framework for the move, it also pointed to the need for flexibility. For confidence that all shipments would arrive on time, regardless of any last-minute changes by the traffic management team, they decided to use the YRC Time-Critical[TM] service. Along with peace of mind, this gave them cost-effective weekend services for Friday pickups and Monday deliveries.

In addition, each armory identified a point of contact to act as "eyes and ears." In preparation for the move, the local contacts communicated to Camp Dodge headquarters personnel any updates and anticipated change in needs. At the time of the move, these contacts also served as the on-site "go to" people for coordinating with the drivers.

Similarly, both the traffic management team and YRC maintained points of contact at Camp Shelby. While the Guard team focused on the unloading process, the transportation company worked with camp personnel to understand their local procedures, stage equipment for sequential access to dock doors, and avoid confusion in the yard.

COMMUNICATIONS ARE VITAL

As anticipated, this was a fluid operation. Dates and armory requirements changed as the time for the move drew near. In this regard, the traffic management team found the single point-of-contact strategy used by YRC beneficial for project coordination. This immersion by the company in the move enabled rapid changes in plan execution and facilitated timely status updates.

At the time, this operation was the most important responsibility for the traffic management team; however, it was not its sole responsibility. The Guard team found helpful the simplified project coordination with the transportation provider, saying it allowed them, to stay focused and efficient.

In summary, when developing the detailed checklists for engineering and executing the logistics associated with a major pre-mobilization or demobilization move, transportation and logistics personnel should anticipate the need for flexibility. Despite the best of plans, disruptions are inevitable when dealing with large moves, multiple locations, and/or a compressed schedule. "Safety nets" such as access to abundant transportation capacity, service guarantees, streamlined communications, and in-the-trenches experience will likely prove invaluable and contribute to the success of your operation.
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Publication:Defense Transportation Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2010
Words:794
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