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Reaching Indonesia, SDDC has worldwide impact.

Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command recently made history when it deployed an Indonesian Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Beirut, Lebanon. This is the first time an SDDC element ever performed a port operation in Indonesia.

The United Nations brokered a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon in August 2006 after a month of hostilities. To enforce the ceasefire, the UN Security Council unanimously passed UN Resolution 1701, paragraph 11 of which authorized an increase of UN forces in Lebanon by 15,000 to assist the Lebanese Army in policiong a demilitarized zone between Israel and Lebanon.

The UN asked its members for military personnel and equipment to support the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Indonesia offered a Mechanized Infantry Battalion Task Force of 900 personnel, equipment, and humanitarian supplies.

The UN then asked the U.S. for assistance in response to an offer made by the Department of State to "provide transportation for one Indonesian mechanized infantry battalion ... as part of the first phase of deployment to the enhanced UNIFIL." In mid-October, the U.S. government approved support and passed the mission through U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), who in turn came to SDDC to execute the mission.

An advance party (ADVON) consisting of Lt. Col. Colice Powell, Commander, and Carlos Tibbetts, Terminal Operations Chief, of the 836th Transportation Battalion, flew to Jakarta on October 19, 2006. The next day they met with Defense Attache, Col. Kevin Richards, and Defense Naval Attache, Captain Norman Laws, at the U.S. Embassy. They then journeyed with the Defense Attache to an Indonesian Army Base at Bogor, just south of Jakarta. There they made contact with the deploying Indonesian Army unit and verified the dimensions of deploying equipment.

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Palmer of the USARPAC G3 Force Protection Office arrived in Jakarta on October 21 to handle all security issues and Maj. Humberto Jones, also from USARPAC, arrived in Jakarta on October 27, rounding out the ADVON to provide contracting support.

The pace of coordination increased when Military Sealift Command awarded the vessel charter to the SS WILSON, a bulk cargo vessel modified to handle break bulk cargo and containers, on a liner in/liner out basis. The ADVON dealt directly with the ship's agent, Wallem Sentosa, to coordinate stevedore contracting and vessel berthing. In addition, the DDST ADVON coordinated use of Hutchinson Whampoa's Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) Terminal 2 (RO-RO) at Tanjung Priok in Jakarta to stage cargo, berth and load the vessel.

The Deployment and Distribution Support Team (DDST) main body of six personnel arrived from Japan and Guam on October 28. On October 29, two Air Mobility Command (AMC) air load planners arrived from Elmendorf AFB to handle airlift of the Indonesian Army ADVON of 125 passengers and 13 pieces of cargo. Leonard Bell and Ed Baxter from MSC's SEALOGFE HQ in Singapore arrived to coordinate vessel operations, making this mission truly "joint," with all of USTRANSCOM's component commands present and involved. The overall mission commander, Col. Benigno Ruiz, 8th Theater Support Command G-3, arrived in Jakarta on November 1 for the execution phase of the operation.

Once on the ground, the main body prepared staging maps, documented cargo, updated the pre-stow plan and set up an operations center at the port in two rented RV buses. The DDST did everything: advising Indonesian military personnel on preparing cargo for shipment, to include inspecting secondary loads and the contents of containers; documenting all equipment (TCMDs); printing and affixing military shipping labels (MSL) to cargo; and generating/ signing all HAZ MAT certifications for both sealift (DD Forms 2890/2781) and airlift (IATA Forms 4).

The SS Wilson arrived on November 2 and the team went into high gear. The team worked round the clock in shifts. Ship's gear lifted everything except containers aboard using cargo nets and belly bands as most vehicles and trailers were of commercial design, lacking lifting and tie-down shackles. Stowing cargo below decks required the use of time-consuming and elaborate chain tie-down arrangements because of a lack of tie-down points. There were tie-down points on the main deck and the use of a pier-side gantry crane expedited loading of 52 TEU containers, including three refrigerator containers containing perishable rations. After lifting aboard 206 pieces, vessel operations were over.

The atmosphere surrounding ship departure was one of celebration. The local media was present and the Indonesian military displayed immense pride, as they had prepared for this deployment since early September. With a band playing and friends and family waving, the ship departed Tanjung Priok on November 4 for a 9-12 month deployment to Lebanon.

After a detailed After Action Review, DDST members returned to home stations extremely proud of a complex job well done.

by Lt. Col. Colice Powell, Capt. Valerie Manuel, Carlos Tibbetts 836th Transportation Batallion
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Author:Tibbetts, Carlos
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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