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JLOTS training is essential to mission.

The War on Terrorism, multiple deployments, bad weather or budget constraints are a few factors that can halt the annual Joint Logistics Over the Sea (JLOTS) training.

This year's training at Ft. Story, Va., was the first conducted since 2000.

JLOTS activities include the loading and unloading of strategic ships when fixed port facilities are unavailable or denied due to enemy activities. Training requires having a primary vessel anchored mid-stream in open ocean water, downloading equipment from another vessel to a floating platform called a Roll-On/Roll-Off Discharge Facility, then uploading it again on a secondary vessel such as a Landing Craft Utility or Landing Craft Mechanized boat for movement to a floating pier that extends from the beach into open water.

Once cargo has been transported from the floating pier to the beach it is moved across the beach en route to the marshalling yard. However, unlike fixed pier operations, the cargo cannot simply move across the beach with ease. A special road network made of dura-mat a matting system designed specifically for heavy vehicles-is laid out on the beach.

At fixed ports, one cargo transfer company has the ability to download a primary vessel: however, JLOTS requires one company to conduct download operations on the primary vessel and beach. One or two boat companies provide secondary vessels, and a causeway company provides the floating pier and RO/RODF. Additional detachments: weather, harbormaster, dive and cargo documentation detachments, are also required.

The Navy also plays a role in JLOTS, consisting of additional communication and command relationships between the Navy and Army units.

"JLOTS requires a significantly more complicated command and control structure than fixed port operations," said Lt. Shannon Sabin, battalion plans, 11th Transportation Battalion, Ft. Story, Va. "The variety and amount of units and personnel involved multiplies the operational complexity."

Additionally, JLOTS is inherently more risky. The weather is unpredictable and plays a determining role in the success of the operation.

"As weather worsens, it is more difficult to work aboard the primary vessel, more difficult to link the secondary vessels with the Roll-On/Roll-Off Discharge Facility, more difficult to drive rolling cargo across the floating causeway," said Sabin. "When the sea state becomes high enough it prohibits any JLOTS operations."

This training improves the efficiency of transporting equipment to areas without port access. With the many deployments the military is involved in, this training is an esential tool to ensure troops and equipment are where needed.

"Without the JLOTS capability we would have to download the cargo at an area where there is a port and then transport it over land to where it was needed," said Sabin. "This would take extra time and create a plethora of additional logistical requirements."

Along with major exercises regular training on the elements of JLOTS specific to the assets of the battalion are conducted. This training is conducted throughout each year.

Not everything that is shipped is easy to off load on a non-existing port. Container handling must be loaded on a Rough Terrain Contain Handler across the pier and then onto the secondary vessel carrying the container. Once the RTCH hooks up to the container, it must back up until it reaches the platform with enough room to turn around and then drive the rest of the way across the pier to the beach.

"From our battalion's perspective, container handling is the most difficult task we have," said Sabin.

Once the training is completed, assessments of the training assist with future training and the overall mission of transporting equipment to non-existing or hostile ports.

"There were many suggestions that resulted from the exercise. Some important improvements will occur in the method in which we prepare the beach for operations, the method in which we communicate across the battalion and with our higher and parallel units, and the way we task organize our subordinate units in order to most efficiently accomplish all the mission requirements," said Sabin.

LaWanda York, Public Affairs Specialist SDDC Headquarters
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Title Annotation:Joint Logistics Over the Sea
Author:York, LaWanda
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2004
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