MTMC's forward element in the War on Terrorism.
Last year, when I addressed the MTMC Commanders' Conference on the use of Deployment Support Teams, I had no idea how soon the training concept would apply to a wartime situation.
Recently, I had an opportunity to work with a very special deployment support team.
I can't tell you were they are. Following Department of Defense public affairs guidance, I will have to say the team is at "an operating location in support of the U.S. Central Command execution of Operation Enduring Freedom."
These team members are carrying the Military Traffic Management Command banner as a cutting edge of Operation Enduring Freedom. They are proud of their work. From my perspective, their work and dedication humbles me.
Led by Tom Brewer of the 836th Transportation Battalion, Yokohama, Japan, the team includes: Staff Sgt. Michael Babb and Minh Ho of the 599th Transportation Group, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii; Staff Sgt. Lee Archuleta, of the 835th Transportation Battalion, Okinawa, Japan; and Staff Sgt. Neal Lucero, of the 837th Transportation Battalion, Pusan, Korea;
The hours are usually long, of course, and when loading or unloading a ship, there is little time off.
When a vessel arrives in port, our deployment support team members produce an Integrated Computerized Deployment System printout of the stowed cargo, which is an exceptionally accurate template of how the cargo is stowed on-board the vessel. When there is an electronic Integrated Computer Deployment System or a Worldwide Port System file, they start even earlier.
All this takes place in a joint military environment under urgent wartime conditions. The U.S. Air Force is the consignee; the U.S. Navy is the port operator. We establish a vessel discharge operations plan based on priorities established by the Air Force unit that is to receive the ammunition.
In this process, the members of our deployment support team actually set the tone for the discharge. They identify when and how the ship will be unloaded--a true traffic management function. They manage the Navy port operators' work efforts on the ship and at the pier during the entire operation. They tally cargo, monitor operations during the discharge or loading, and adjust the operations plan, if necessary, to ensure efficient cargo movement.
Usually by 7 p.m., the Worldwide Port System is updated with the disposition of cargo. When the ship sails, team members also complete an executive summary of the move and a cargo traffic message to assist the next MTMC port of call.
Sometimes, the Worldwide Port System LOGMARS Military Shipping Labels are not present on the shipping containers. As a consequence, our deployment support team members have not been able to use their scanners. Every one of our electronic data entries in the Worldwide Port System and the Integrated Computer Deployment System must be a manual transaction. This is a very time-consuming effort. It requires dedicated manpower resources with expertise in operating our automated cargo documentation systems that feed the Global Transportation Network. It is the only way we can provide valuable in-transit visibility of our cargoes.
I can't talk much about specific loads and systemic actions, but I can relate the challenges team members overcame in the Dec. 10-13 discharge of the Cornhusker State. We had to discharge more than 100 cargo containers from the vessel. I observed our team working very well with the Military Sealift Command and the Navy port operators. From my observation, they were the ones calling most of the shots when it came to cargo movement actions.
Without their stow plan printouts and marine cargo expertise, it would have been a very difficult mission for the port operator. The tasking was to selectively discharge scores of ammunition containers scattered among a cargo load of hundreds of boxes that were onboard the ship. From what I observed, we had a very smooth operation in a very difficult tasking. There were containers stowed below deck that needed to be discharged. Some of the containers above deck were staying on the ship.
Careful planning by our deployment support team prevented lots of double handling and set the tone for effective and efficient cargo operations.
Now, more than ever, I'm truly convinced that we are vital for the completion of updates for the Worldwide Port System and Global Transportation Network to ensure in-transit visibility. Our presence there is of tremendous assistance to those who have to actually unload the cargo. I spoke with several of the Navy port operators there. They all agreed with me that our people are very valuable in contributing to their efforts.
It is an honor to chronicle a small part of the deployment support team's very valuable work and loyalty. Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the 2002 MTMC Training Symposium in Dallas, March 24-29.
Sgt. Maj. Gonzalo Rivera-Rivera
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sgt. Maj. Gonzalo Rivera-Rivera recently got a first-hand look at the Military Traffic Management Command's role in the War on Terrorism. Rivera-Rivera, Command Sergeant Major of the 599th Transportation Group, Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, wrote this letter after working with a MTMC deployment support team at "an operating location in support of the U.S. Central Command execution of Operation Enduring Freedom." See pgs. 26-27 for full-color coverage.
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|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2002|
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