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SDDC continues shipments for Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

As the USNS Watkins loaded equipment in Corpus Christi, Texas, in late September, it signaled the start of the next big movement of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution cargoes to South West Asia.

The Watkins' cargo is the first big move of equipment as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. The 700-plus pieces of cargo on board are part of the next rotation of service members and equipment bound for Southwest Asia

During this rotation, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command plans to move as much military equipment as was moved in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, the command's Deputy Commanding General/Director of Operations.

"One difference is that we have a better idea of upcoming requirements now," said Scheid. "That means we have more planning time and can operate with even more efficiency."

Between Sept. 1 and April 2005, some 314 vessel operations are planned, said Scheid.

In all, Scheid said 11.4-million-square-feet of cargo is projected for deployment and 9.6-million-square-feet of cargo is projected for redeployment.

The biggest operations will be in Southwest Asia where 157 vessel operations are planned including 70 loadings and 87 discharges.

In the United States, 141 vessel operations are planned including 82 loadings and 59 discharges.

In Europe, SDDC plans four loadings and 10 discharges. In the past year, SDDC moved the biggest amount of Department of Defense cargo in a half century. Shipments went to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In all, some 330-vessel operations were conducted.

Scheid praised the support of industry partners and Army Reservists in achieving the multiple and timely movements.

"We achieve success because of our teamwork," said Scheid.

To plan for the newest rotations, SDDC took part in a meeting of the Joint Planning Advisory Group, sponsored by U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The group--which includes ocean carrier members--met Aug. 17 at Fort Eustis, Va.

Support of commercial partners is critical to mission success said Lt. Gen. Gary Hughey, Deputy Commander, U.S. Transportation Command.

"We can't project or sustain forces in the Department of Defense without you, our commercial partners," the Marine Corps officer told the industry representatives. "This is our opportunity to tell you what we have planned and to get feedback on how we are executing that plan."

For the year ahead, the meeting offered "future-oriented, macro-level" information, said Peter Finnerty, president, American Ocean Enterprises, Inc., Annapolis, Md.

"We will be expected to provide a certain level of resources and service," said Finnerty. "The information-sharing enables us in the private sector to formulate the necessary responses to meet Department of Defense requirements."

The meeting also served as a valuable forum to exchange ideas and resolve issues, he said.

Discussions centered on:

* Changes in customs and agricultural clearance practices

* Improvements in in-transit asset visibility, and

* Increased use of commercial liner services

"We all have to be ready and able to adapt," said Scheid. "Although SDDC is working to provide accurate information as tar in advance as possible, we all have to expect that the type and volume of cargo and the required delivery dates will change as requirements change."

At one-tenth the cost of airlift, sealift will remain the preferred mode of deploying cargo and sustaining forces, he said.

In support of operations in Southwest Asia, SDDC moves about 86 percent of unit cargo and 95 percent of sustainment cargo by sea.

Patti Bielling, Public Affairs Specialist SDDC Operations Center
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Title Annotation:Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:Bielling, Patti
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2004
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