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MTMC assignment up front: Canadian officer spurs shipments to his mates in Afghanistan.

For Maj. Serge Pelletier, it was only a short drive from MTMC Headquarters in Alexandria, Va., to Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Two hours after he drove away from his job at MTMC's Joint Traffic Management Office to a new assignment at the U.S. Air Force Base, Pelletier found himself on the cutting edge of the global logistical effort supporting the War on Terrorism.

Since Pelletier left MTMC on Feb. 26, and drove across the springtime land of Maryland and Delaware, the exchange officer has carved out a piece of history in a massive joint logistical effort between the United States and Canada. He has led a small team of soldiers supplying Canadian troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

For the first time, Canadians are using the Canada-United States Integrated Lines of Communication Agreement. The agreement provides for the use of American planes and ships to provide the logistical support for Canadians involved in a joint military action with the United States military.

"This has truly been one of the most exciting assignments in my two decades in the Canadian military," said Pelletier. "It's a great feeling knowing that our team directly impacts the welfare of our troops at the front."

"We've been getting great support from the folks at the 436th Aerial Port Squadron and thanks to them we've been able to support our troops in Kandahar."

For the Canadian Army, Pelletier was a logical choice to command his country's four-member team.

As a captain during Operation Desert Storm in 1990, he served at MTMC's Eastern Area Command, in Bayonne, N.J. Later in his career in 2000, he was reassigned to MTMC's Headquarters, in Alexandria, Va.

"I know the American acronyms and process," said Pelletier. "I can translate the Canadian requirements into something that the U.S. Air Force can understand."

The team's work represents "a complete success story," said Lt. Col. Michael Bergeron, Logistics Chief of the Canadian Forces Joint Task Force South West Asia, co-located with the U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

"They were able to get material moving on American planes to the Arabian Gulf area and Afghanistan within two weeks of hitting the ground," said Bergeron. "That is quite a feat considering the steep learning curve they were facing and considering it had never been done before."

Originally designed to support a NATO conflict in Europe, the agreement's mandate was widened after the Gulf War to cover any operation in which both countries participate anywhere in the world.

"The agreement is unique," said Lt. Col. Jean-Pierre Pichette, Canada's senior representative to the agreement, who is currently serving at the U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. "It is a bilateral agreement between two partner nations which, when activated, blends the entire North American transportation infrastructure and resources into a single system."

This is also Pichette's second tour as a Canada-United States Integrated Lines of Communication Agreement officer. He worked with the agreement in the mid-1980s while assigned in Ramstein, Germany, with the U.S. Air Force Europe.

"It is activated by mutual consent," said Pichette. "It was activated for the very first time on December 5, 2001. We are now reaping the benefits of the more than 20 years we have invested in the agreement moving a steady flow of cargo to support our troops half way around the world. We are making logistics history and are setting the way for the future."

There is a key difference between the agreement and the Cooperative Airlift Agreement, said Maj. Sylvain Turbide, a Canadian officer assigned to the Air Mobility Command.

"Under the Canada-United States Integrated Lines of Communication Agreement, Canada can ship cargo on American planes according to its priority," said Turbide. "The cargo moves according to its priority, so the highest priority cargo leaves on the next plane--the country of ownership of the cargo and the aircraft do not come into play at all."

The Cooperative Airlift Agreement only allows shipment on a space available basis.

The Canada-United States Integrated Lines of Communication Agreement enables Canada to take advantage of the vast American transportation resources to better support our troops deployed on operations, said Pichette.

The agreement is not only for the movement of freight, said Maj. Phyllis O'Grady, a Canadian officer assigned to the Command Surgeon's Office at U.S. Transportation Command.

"There is a health care side to it," said O'Grady. "It can also be used to transport our sick or injured troops from the area of operation back to North America."

Currently, there are three American flights from Dover Air Force Base to the Arabian Gulf Region where the Canadian logistics group supporting its troops in Kandahar is located. The flights represent an air bridge for Canadian forces, said members of Pelletier's team.

"We have been shipping material on every flight since March 19," said Warrant Officer Mike Forrest, of 1 Air Movements Squadron, Winnipeg, Canada.

"The cargo destined for the Arabian Gulf region is shipped to us from Montreal," said Sgt. George Lake, a loadmaster with 435 Transport & Rescue Squadron, Winnipeg, Canada.

"Then we input it into the American system."

The fourth member of the team, Cpl. Mick Toutant, of 1 Air Movements Squadron, agreed on the high quality of American cooperation.

"The folks here have been extremely friendly and have taught us to use the American Air Forces system," said Toutant.

"We make a great team!"
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Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 1, 2002
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