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Multi-modal workshop stresses partnering for change.

Synchronizing end-to-end, seamless movement of unit equipment and freight from fort and depot to the warfighter served as a continuing theme at the 599th Transportation Group's annual multimodal traffic management conference.

The ability to accomplish today's military distribution challenges is directly related to our ability to integrate a global commercial transportation and distribution system with the capability of the Department of Defense, stressed Col. Tom Harvey, commander, 599th Transportation Group, the workshop host.

Over 350 transporters and distribution managers attended this year's workshop, Oct. 22-23, at Honolulu, Hawaii--the largest number ever to attend the annual forum that is co-sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command.

"To synchronize the distribution process, will require involvement at every level-with suppliers, shippers, and distributors, and customers," said Harvey. "It is important to understand that we can't synchronize distribution for the Department of Defense on our own.

"If we can improve our alliances and teaming relationships, then we can more effectively take advantage of commercial industry and Department of Defense, infrastructure, and information to create a win-win for all parties. This partnership is critical to moving and supporting our forces throughout the Pacific and around the world."

Maj. Gen. Ann Dunwoody, Commanding General, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, reinforced those views.

In her keynote address to the audience, Dunwoody credited the success of past missions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to enablers that made the difference. Top on that list were industry partners.

"They (industry partners) did the heavy lifting by rail, truck, ports and ocean carriers," said Dunwoody.

Other critical enablers for on-time sustainment, said Dunwoody, were the Reserve components, the Ready Reserve fleet and technology enhancements that provided in-transit visibility and total asset visibility.

"What I want to leave you with," said Dunwoody, "is we couldn't have done it without you. Success was a result of people going above and beyond to synchronize carriers, rails, and vessels to meet the needs of out war fighters-it was a tough job. Pretty phenomenal. And, we still need your help!"

Dunwoody said the organization's recent name change to Military Surface Distribution and Deployment Command "accurately describes the organization that is fully engaged in transformation right now to meet the war fighter's deployment and distribution needs for today and the future."

The resulting benefits of changes already implemented became apparent when Dunwoody described the paradigm shift experienced from Desert Shield/Desert Storm to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

"During Desert Storm, we sacrificed unit integrity for efficiency--we sought to maximize load efficiency," said Dunwoody. "By contrast, during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, we loaded vessels by unit and task organization, which proved to be a more efficient and effective way to discharge and move combat power."

The key, said Dunwoody, was SDDC's "delivered capability to the war fighter instead of the past focus on delivered equipment."

"Experience during Operation Iraqi Freedom shows that it takes longer to load vessels by task organization but the benefits to the war fighters on the receiving end makes it the preferred process," said Dunwoody. "We want to deliver capability--we need to educate out folks about this."

A former SDDC assistant chief of staff for passenger and personal property, Col. Nonie Cabana, echoed the military transportation transformation in delivery sustainment to warfighters.

Cabana, deputy director for logistics, engineering and security, and U.S. Pacific Command's co-host, echoed that the road to transformation is well underway.

"We have gone from warehouses stuffed with supplies to relying on technology and contractors to provide inventory as needed," said Cabana.

"In the automatic information technology world, the logisticians at U.S. Transportation Command and the Defense Logistics Agency were able to track cargo and personnel movements to the theater and avoid double and triple ordering by knowing exactly what was inside each shipping container.

"The glue that binds these efforts together is a highly synchronized distribution process."

Both Dunwoody and Cabana honed in on the importance of leveraging technology to ensure in-transit and total asset visibility.

"The mantra during Operation Iraqi Freedom was "the warehouse is in the distribution pipeline," said Cabana. "It is imperative that we have visibility from factory-to-foxhole, throughout warehouses, and prepositioned stocks both afloat and ashore."

"We (SDDC) want to be the last line of defense for in-transit visibility/total asset visibility," said Dunwoody.

"Today, through leveraging out automation systems, we can provide 100 percent in-transit visibility/total asset visibility, of our surface cargo.

"It takes discipline throughout the system and back at the fort to make this happen. We need Level 6 Detail (maximum information available) for anything that enters our system."

Guest speaker Charles (Chuck) Raymond, chairmen, president and chief executive officer, Horizon Lines, had high praise for SDDC's change process.

"I've watched your progress and you've done things that, frankly we in the private sector only hope to accomplish as well," said Raymond, leader of the largest U.S. Flag carrier. "I'm talking about streamlining your organization, reducing layers, cutting out costs, and relocating parts of the organization while maintaining a high level of service to your customers." Raymond also credited leveraging technology toward perfecting this effort.

"I'm especially impressed by your use of technology, things like your on-line booking initiatives, PowerTrack payment system," said Raymond. "And, on horizon, the implementation of the incredible Surface Transportation Management System.

"It takes commitment and a real gut-level desire to change, but in the end your customers will be better off."

The maritime industry has complimented the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command for its overall deployment support to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement, which assures maritime support in a military crisis, and the military's organic fleet played important roles that led to a successful sealift operation, said Eric Mensing, APL's vice president for U.S. Government Market.

"The military's organic fleet performed magnificently," said Mensing. "The Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off vessels were able to deliver the heavy unit equipment.

"The Army and Marine Corps prepositioned vessels, the Military Sealift Command's chartered Army prep-positioned ammo vessels, and the Maritime Administration's rejuvenated Ready Reserve Fleet all performed successfully, as planned."

All-service planning, through the Joint Planning Advisory Group was another critical element for the Operation Iraqi Freedom sealift success story, said Mensing. The critical information sharing and planning to prepare for both the surge and sustainment phases of the deployment occurred in these meetings, said Mensing.

To ensure in-transit visibility and total asset visibility, there was a mandatory requirement for Radio Frequency Identification tags to be used on all containers carrying subsistence and construction/barrier material, he said.

Additionally, said Mensing, SDDC established a documentation business rule, which required carriers to obtain a release from its operations center, in Fort Eustis, Va. This rule provided SDDC with container content visibility down to the item level to facilitate tracking. "Though the business rule added process workload to the carriers' operational control activity," said Mensing, it was effective in meeting U.S. Central Command's total asset visibility requirements."

Story and photos by Terri Kojima, Command Affairs Officer, 599th Transportation Group
COPYRIGHT 2004 U.S. Military Traffic Management Command
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Author:Kojima, Terri
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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