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Joint operations at JAXPORT.

As 12,000 pieces of equipment made their way to the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) commercial seaport in Jacksonville, Fla., the 832nd Transportation Battalion and the U.S. Marine Corps Blount Island Command (BIC), in a joint effort, prepared to deploy the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB).


Under the Command of Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholas, the 2nd MEB, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., deployed this spring in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The deployment has brought together two commands who have been neighbors on Blount Island Marine Terminal since the 832nd Trans. Bn. arrived in Jacksonville in 2003, yet the two commands have never collaborated on such a large mission.

This mission, as 832nd Trans. Bn. safety officer Rafael Leon-Castro explained, "has opened up channels of communication that never existed before between the two commands."

Working with several industry partners, the 832nd Trans. Bn. and USMC BIC spent several days to meticulously plan the documenting, staging, uploading, and stowing of the commercial vessels.

Being one of the premier ports for military strategic lift, JAXPORT commercial terminal has seen its share of military deployments. The port facility realizes the importance of the 832nd in support of OIF and OEF, and a solid relationship between the two was critical for success.

With a constant flow of equipment from the USMC side of Blount Island, including 1,100 milvans and more than 900 trailers, staging space needed to be addressed. The 832nd and USMC BIC effectively worked with JAXPORT terminal to ensure that approximately 25 acres of staging area for the battalion were free for the duration of the mission.

The mission's success relied heavily on the teamwork of a collection of industry partners and augmentees. The 832nd called upon the members of the Deployment and Distribution Support Team (DDST) from its sister unit, the 841st Trans. Bn. from Charleston, S.C. The seven member DDST provided deployment process and in-transit visibility expertise that aided the 832nd in documenting the 2nd MEB equipment.


The 832nd Trans. Bn. also sought the help of two Jacksonville reserve units, the 352nd Transportation Corps Detachment and 1186th Deployment Distribution Support Battalion, to provide additional marine cargo and traffic management support during the deployment. Labor and terminal services were provided by the battalion's contractor, Stevedoring Service of America. The Port Support Activity, provided by ITT contractors from Fort Benning, Ga., ensured all maintenance and special equipment parts were available. And as with every mission, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Jacksonville Sheriff's office provided 24-hour water side and port security during operations.

From the beginning of the mission, the 832nd Trans. Bn. encountered its fair share of obstacles in the documentation of cargo. Incompatibilities between the Army and Marine documentation databases created issues with the receipt of cargo from the USMC to the Army systems. The majority of the USMC equipment required manual input into the Army's port computer database, Worldwide Port System (WPS), to ensure accurate accountability of equipment. The 832nd documentation team created more than 4,000 Transportation Control Numbers (TCN), dimensions and serial numbers for all of the cargo in WPS. In addition, to ensure 100 percent in-transit visibility, the 832nd Trans. Bn. team burned most of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and printed military shipping labels for all the deploying equipment. The burning of each tag is integral in the movement of each piece of equipment, allowing proper tracking and visibility of all the equipment.

A total of four commercial vessels were loaded during the four week deployment exercise, destined for the USCENTCOM area of operation. Additional equipment is still being received at the USMC Blount Island Command for an eventual fifth vessel out load that will close out the 2nd MEB deployment. Through the diligence of the 832nd, USMC BIC, augmentees, and the various industry partners, the mission did not encounter a single safety accident or incident.

The deployment of the 2nd MEB allowed both branches to take a look at each other's logistical process and to learn from one another, said Capt. William Reasoner, operations officer for the 832nd.

"Working with other service branches is not something that is done very often, and in doing so, allows each of us to take the good and the bad to create a seamless system that will only make us better at what we do," Reasoner said. "Though difficult at times, it will make us better Soldiers and better Marines."

By Anthony Hill, Jr.

832nd Transportation Battalion
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Author:Hill, Anthony, Jr.
Date:Jun 22, 2009
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